Thursday, March 27, 2003 ó 1:00 p.m.
Speaker:I will now call this House to order. We will proceed at this time with prayers.
Speaker:We will proceed at this time with the Order Paper.
Introduction of visitors.
Are there any returns or documents for tabling?
Are there any reports of committees?
Are there any petitions?
Are there any bills to be introduced?
Are there any notices of motion?
NOTICES OF MOTION
Mr. Hardy:I give notice of the following motion:
THAT it is the opinion of this House that
(1) the Yukon Territory is home to people representing a wide diversity of nations, races, cultures, languages and creeds;
(2) war against any nation, race, culture, language or creed endangers the peace and security and democracy of all nations, including Canada;
(3) as elected leaders, members of this House desire to help create a world where all nations, races, cultures, languages and creeds can live together in peaceful respect; and
(4) the elected representatives of the citizens of the Yukon Territory desire to lead by the power of example to leave a legacy of peace to our children and to their children; and
THAT this House respectfully ask the Commissioner of the Yukon Territory to proclaim the Yukon a territory for peace; and
THAT this House expresses opposition to the pre-emptive military attack on Iraq; and
THAT this House urges the Government of Canada to continue to work to create peace through the United Nations and reaffirm our countryís commitment to the United Nations charter.
Speaker: Are there any further notices of motion?
Mr. Cathers: I give notice of the following motion:
THAT this House recognizes that the upcoming visit to the Yukon by Alaska State Senators and members of the Alaska State Legislature is a continuation of the long friendship between Yukon and Alaska; and
THAT this House welcomes the Alaska legislators and reaffirms our territoryís friendship with Alaska and the United States of America.
Speaker: Any there any further notices of motion?
Are there any ministerial statements?
Speaker:Order please. Before proceeding with Question Period, the Chair would like to make a statement about a practice that seems to be developing in this House. The Chair has noticed that some members wish to offer additional comments or explanations after the Chair has ruled on a point of order. That is not in order. I would call membersí attention to Standing Order 6(1) which says, "No debate shall be permitted on [decisions from the Chair] and no decision shall be subject to an appeal to the Assembly."
If members wish to contribute to the discussion on a point of order, they must do so before the Chair rules. Once the Chair rules on a point of order, the subject is closed.
Thank you. This then bring us to Question Period.
Question re: Film industry incentives
Mr. Hardy:Yesterday I was rather surprised at the apparent lack of knowledge displayed by the Minister of Business, Tourism and Culture about what should be one of the territoryís productive industries.
Can the minister give us an estimate of how much the recent cuts in the Canadian television fund will cost the Yukon industry and what her department is doing to address this concern?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I am sorry, I missed what fund the member opposite was referring to.
Mr. Hardy: The Canadian television fund.
Hon. Ms. Taylor: That I am not aware of.
Mr. Hardy: The reality is that Yukon producers canít track the television market if they canít compete financially. They need some demonstration that this government is on their side. This is one of the funds that you would be looking toward.
We have had members of the local industry tell us that they took one look at the ministerís March 6 letter and tossed it away because it doesnít address their concerns. Instead of hiding behind a lengthy review process that was mentioned yesterday, will the minister agree to sit down, face to face, with local stakeholders and come up with a short-term action plan to get them into the game this spring? Will she do that?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I thank the member opposite for the question. I appreciate those views brought forward. As I mentioned yesterday, my door is always open. Of course, Iíd be very happy to sit down with anyone who requests a meeting with me or with my colleagues.
The Film Commission review, which I believe the member opposite is referring to, is proceeding, as we had mentioned yesterday. In the short term, we have initiated a short-term marketing plan. That is just currently being completed by a contractor. The recommendations should be ready by Monday, at which time we will be seeking support to hire an interim marketing support person as well.
Again, I reiterate our view that a comprehensive and overall inclusive approach to this Film Commission review is a very good thing to occur. We want to involve all stakeholders, those being members of the Northern Film and Video Industry Association, the Yukon Film Society, independent film producers; we want to engage Yukon First Nations, as well. I think thatís a very laudable approach.
Mr. Hardy: Getting back to outside productions, the minister has mentioned the film incentive program that the NDP government set up in 1998. It has a proven track record but it can only work if our incentives stay competitive. Recently British Columbia faced a serious decline in film activity because of the 9/11 tragedy ó Iíve heard figures up to 30 percent ó as well as a well-orchestrated Hollywood campaign to prevent so-called runaway productions being filmed in Canada.
The B.C. government responded by increasing its film incentive program. It is now better than the Yukonís program, which means that weíre going to lose productions because we canít compete. What is the minister doing to meet this challenge and when can we expect an increase in the Yukon film incentive program?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: That is exactly why we want to initiate this Film Commission review. We want to look at all the options available, take a look at all the other jurisdictions operating in Canada, what their film commissions are doing, what works, and what doesnít work. I think itís a very reasonable approach to take a look at the market potential for investment, the capacity of the industry, as well as governance requirements.
I should also mention that, recently, I received a letter from the Recording Arts Industry Yukon Association, in which they had requested involvement in the review. Seeing as how this is consistent with other jurisdictions in the country, we think that the suggestion of combining film, sound recording and multimedia makes a lot of sense, given our current realities.
Question re: Film industry reports
Mr. Hardy:Yesterday, the Minister of Business, Tourism and Culture ó I got it right this time ó reminded us she has only been a minister for four months. That should be long enough for the minister to read some very relevant reports on the Yukonís film industry. Iíll mention them.
First, thereís the report from the film industry stakeholdersí discussion of September 20, 2002; second, the report by Research Northwest on November 1, 2002, on the Yukon Film Commission as an armís-length agency; then a report on the Yukon Film Commission operations and business plan prepared for her own department last October by the acting film commissioner.
Has the minister read these reports and, if so, why has she not mentioned them, or is she ignoring them?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: To ignore a report performed with public taxpayersí dollars would be very irresponsible, I believe. The member opposite would probably concur ó I would hope so. The reports previously commissioned and completed are very good starting points and will certainly be looked at and given full consideration. They will provide a very strong background to our review.
Again, we want to take a look at the other jurisdictions. We want to do a sound business plan on this approach. We think itís a responsible approach to take. We want to involve all stakeholders. Again, the Film Society, independent film producers, Northern Native Broadcasting Yukon ó we think that is a very laudable approach.
Mr. Hardy: My question was: has the minister opposite read the reports? However, the report by Research Northwest was very clear on why the industry supports an arms-length Film Commission. I quote, "Currently there seems to be a never-ending task of lobbying and educating civil servants, with the feeling among stakeholders that we are on a treadmill to nowhere. In addition, proposals related to the film industry must fight their way through a host of other priorities within the department before political decision-makers even get to consider the issue."
Why has the minister chosen to launch a lengthy bureaucratic review process, which she has already mentioned a few times, instead of responding to a very clear concern by the very people who are trying to make a living from this industry?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Again I thank the member opposite for the question raised. We certainly want to make an expeditious review. We donít want to belabour this review or go through a lengthy process. As Iíve said, in the interim, we have hired an individual to do a marketing plan on a short-term basis over the next four to six months. In the meantime we will also be looking at, within the next week, hiring an individual to implement that marketing plan. Also, in the interim we will conduct a review, which I hope to have completed within the next little while, as soon as possible.
Mr. Hardy: Yesterday and today, the minister said she wants to look at other jurisdictions and what they are practising. A lot of that information is outlined in the Research Northwest report. Her own Film Commission has even more information, I am sure, and so does the Yukon Film and Video Association. She could check the Internet and make a few phone calls. All the information she needs could be on her desk in less than a week. Will the minister at least agree to engage a qualified interim film commissioner for the six months or so her review will probably take, so we donít lose another $10 million, like we lost in the past year?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: I will certainly commit to do so, just as soon as we finish our review.
Again, we donít wish to belabour this process any longer than we have to, but I think that itís a responsible approach. I think that the work being done right now by the Film Commission ó they are doing a great job, and I commend them for the work that they have been able to do.
In the interim, again, weíre hiring a marketing individual to implement the marketing plan over the next four to six months, as well as we want to possibly look at involving multimedia, sound recording ó those are also very viable cultural industries that support a lot of growth and support the territorial economy.
Again, I donít see the reason why the member opposite is so very much against involving all those other stakeholders.
Question re: Yukon Party use of Cabinet offices
Ms. Duncan:Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Acting Premier. Does the Acting Premier agree that the Cabinet offices of the Government of Yukon should only be used for government work?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thatís very much the case, Mr. Speaker.
Ms. Duncan: Iím glad that the Acting Premier thinks that the government offices should not be used for political purposes. Yesterday, an ad appeared in the Whitehorse Star for a meeting of the Yukon Party constituency organization. Only members of the Yukon Party were encouraged to attend. The contact number for information for the meeting is a number in the Premierís office.
Mr. Speaker, this government is doing work for the Yukon Party on the taxpayersí time and on the taxpayersí dollar. In fact, the Yukon Party now appears to be running out of the Premierís office. Who approved this use of the Premierís office as a contact number for the political activities of the Yukon Party?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: At my level, I am not aware of this ad being run. If it is, as the member opposite states, itís probably very much in error.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Mr. Speaker, the facts of the matter are that the new government is using the Premierís office to run the political activities of the Yukon Party. There was a notice in the Whitehorse Star that urged people who wanted to attend a meeting of the Yukon Party to call the Premierís office. Iím sure Yukoners are pleased to know that their tax dollars are being used to subsidize the operations of the Yukon Party.
Now, the Acting Premier is refusing to say who authorized this use of the Premierís office as a contact because he apparently doesnít want to take any responsibility for this decision.
I ask again: who authorized this? Was it the chief of staff? Was it the MLAs? Who was it? Was it the Premier? Who authorized this use of taxpayersí money?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Speaker, our government is very cognizant of the role of government and the role of the political arm. They are separate and they are distinct. Now, from time to time there are errors that occur, and there were many errors in the previous administration of the Liberals and the previous administrations of the NDP, but at the end of the day, if an error has been made, I apologize and we will fix it.
Question re: Education Act review strategy
Mr. Fairclough:My question is for the Minister of Education. The minister said yesterday that he was working on an education strategy and said, "I want to state for the record that this plan is one that will involve all stakeholders."
Mr. Speaker, at the same time, theyíre saying that monies in governments have dried up and weíre getting mixed messages and the public is getting mixed messages. So Iíd like to ask the minister: how much money has he set aside in this budget for this inclusive process? Is it $100,000? $50,000? $200,000? Or is it the $12,000 he cut from the arts contribution? How much money has he set aside in this budget for this inclusive process and for how long does he expect it to go on?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for that question. I would like to state, at this time, that there has been no money set aside for what the member opposite is referring to, and I believe that basically all that has been set aside at this present time is brainpower.
Mr. Fairclough: I have to agree with the member opposite that he did set aside his brainpower, Mr. Speaker. The Yukon Party made a commitment during the election to act quickly on the Education Act.
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Speaker:Order. The Member for Klondike, on a point of order.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite is casting aspersions on a member of our Cabinet.
Some Hon. Member: On the point of order.
Speaker: The Member for Kluane, on the point of order.
Mr. McRobb: On the point of order, Mr. Speaker, there is no point of order. The member was merely repeating the words that came from the mouth of this minister.
Speaker:There is no point of order. Please carry on.
Mr. Fairclough: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
The Yukon Party made a commitment to review the Education Act as quickly as possible and, so far, we havenít seen any action from this Yukon Party at this point. School councils and First Nations have not had their say on the Liberalsí attempt at this review. So Iíd like to ask the minister: when will the process to look at the Education Act review get started?
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for the question. I think it would be quite safe to say that the Education Act review will probably proceed as soon as possible.
Mr. Fairclough: Well, Mr. Speaker, itís obvious that this minister doesnít have a plan in place for this. Platform commitments are being broken. The minister decided, instead, to focus the spending on core curriculum. He has a plan, and itís his plan alone which, at this point in time, does not involve the partners in education.
He said he was looking at a First Nation education strategy, then an advanced education strategy and, now, weíve been talking about a comprehensive strategy. I would like to again point out that partners in education have not been consulted in regard to these different strategies with this minister. The minister said in this House that some discussions took place. Well, Mr. Speaker, that is not consultation. Partners in education want to know what this minister is going to deal with first ó which strategy ó because there seems to be a lot of talk and no action.
Hon. Mr. Edzerza: I thank the member opposite for the question. I believe that the member opposite mentioned a few of the issues I may have raised and I believe they are all good thoughts, and all good thoughts take time to put into action. Iím not one who is about to jump at every little notion that comes into play. I am one who believes in doing a thorough job and a professional job; therefore, it will proceed and it will proceed in due course with a lot of thought put into it.
Question re: Workersí Compensation Act review
Mr. Cardiff:Last December, I wrote the minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board asking for specific information relating to the Workers' Compensation Act review. On March 3 and again on March 13, I asked the minister again for the information, which he has failed to provide despite a commitment to do so. The ministerís credibility is on the line here.
The minister said in this House that the Workers' Compensation Health and Safety Board review committee existed, that he had appointed three people to it, that the committee had terms of reference, and that the committee had provided him with an initial report.
When will the minister provide the information that I have repeatedly requested and which the minister has told this House actually exists?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, the member opposite is very correct in some of his statement ó the part that refers to the committee having been struck and in place for the Workersí Compensation Act review prior to the end of this last year. It has been working diligently since that time. The terms of reference have been agreed to by all of the three members of this review panel and there has been an interim report provided to me. I have agreed to provide the member opposite with the terms of reference and some of the interim report. We will undertake to do so in due course.
Mr. Cardiff: Well, on March 13, we were thinking there were 18 holes, and now there must be 27. Weíre on a second round here, just about.
Why is this information so secret? Does the minister have something to hide? I just donít understand it.
Mr. Speaker, it would be usual for a responsible minister to provide a letter to the people whom he appointed to this committee. It would also be usual and practical, Mr. Speaker, for that committee to be provided with the terms of reference. And it would also be usual for the interim reports to be date-stamped when they were received by the minister. All of this material must have a date on it.
When will the minister provide me with the names of the people and provide the public with the names of the people who he says were appointed to the Workers' Compensation Act review committee and the information on the dates they were appointed, the dated terms of reference, the date he received the committeeís initial report and a copy of the initial report?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Speaker, the press release announcing all of this area came out of the NDP offices late last year, so the information is right there. Itís in black and white; itís accurate. The orders-in-council appointing the various people are all there. I donít know what else the member wants to do other than get involved directly in this review.
The member opposite might want to take the time to review the legislation and the empowering part of it that the minister has a responsibility for, and I must address my responsibilities as set out in that legislation, and Iím doing exactly that, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Cardiff: One thing I can assure the minister is that the press release from the NDP caucus office does not exist, and I would like him to provide that. Maybe he can provide that.
My request is pretty simple. I think that the stakeholders ó the workers and employers who are interested in what is going on with the act review ó want to know the details.
The ministerís promise to provide information in due course is not good enough. He should end this matter, which is at the heart of the ministerís credibility, and provide the information. When will he do that? When will the minister provide the information, or will he leave us guessing as to whether or not the information exists and the facts are as the minister reported in this House?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The facts are that three people have been appointed to this Workers' Compensation Act review. They were appointed prior to the end of the last year. There is a letter that went out to each one of these individuals outside of our caucus spelling out and congratulating them on their appointment. All of the necessary steps as required by legislation are completely adhered to. Progress is being made by this review panel and there are interim reports.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The reports are to my office, and this body is functioning well, progress is made. There has been an interim progress report provided to my office. I donít know what the member opposite is harping on. We are following ó
Speaker:Order please. The term "harping" is unparliamentary and Iíd ask the member not to use it.
Withdrawal of remark
Hon. Mr. Jenkins:Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I withdraw the term "harping".
Question re: Electrical rate increases
Mr. McRobb:My question is for the minister responsible for the Yukon Energy Corporation on a matter unbeknownst to all but a few Yukoners.
On December 23, some seven weeks after this government was elected, the corporation for which this minister is responsible filed an application to the Yukon Utilities Board to increase the power bills of Yukoners. This application attempted to charge people for costs associated with the Mayo to Dawson transmission line through the inappropriate use of fuel rider F. Fortunately, the YUB, after hearing intervenorsí concerns, ruled against the application.
As pointed out in the boardís decision, "The project was approved by the minister responsible for the Yukon Development Corporation. If the government wanted the board to require ratepayers to help finance the line, it could have done so at any time, either by amending the order-in-council or by issuing a special directive to the board under section 17 of the act."
Speaker: Order. Would the member ask the question.
Mr. McRobb: Can the minister advise the House why he chose the approach he did to try increasing Yukonersí power bills?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Thatís why we have a YUB. Understanding that this is an armís-length corporation, I am the minister, but it is operated at armís length, so the Yukon Utilities Board did its job. It was turned down, obviously. You said that.
Mr. McRobb: Well, I donít quite understand that response, but this is the same minister who didnít do his work in time on the rate relief program or rate stabilization fund that will cost Yukoners another $40 per month. Obviously he needs a reality check from the perspective of ordinary Yukoners who cannot afford all of the energy-related price gouging going on now.
Now, I want to return to the approach used by the minister that was deemed inappropriate by this independent board. The purpose of rider F is to allow the utilities to recover fluctuations in prices paid for diesel fuel. Going beyond that sole purpose would contravene Order-in-Council 1995/90.
As the board stated in its decision, the purpose of rider F is not to help finance the cost of a new transmission line. Why would the minister deliberately direct the corporation for which he is responsible to take such an approach with the purpose of taking money out of the pockets of Yukoners?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Mr. Speaker, again, weíre talking about an armís-length corporation. The Yukon Utilities Board did their job; it was turned down.
Mr. McRobb: I see the coaching from the Acting Premier has paid off, Mr. Speaker. The only thing armís length here is accountability to this government. Had this ministerís attempt to hike the power bills been successful, it would have increased the bills of all electrical customers in the territory. That includes every residential, business and municipal customer in the whole Yukon.
Because the minister didnít do his work on rate relief in time, that will cost Yukoners up to another $40 per month.
This is some consumer-friendly government, Mr. Speaker. Guess who must pay the cost of this whole application process, complete with the cost of consultants and lawyers representing both the corporation and the regulator? How much did that cost?
People are worried about the ministerís intentions in engaging further pursuits. Will the minister assure us now that he will rescind his previous direction to the corporation and not pursue this matter further?
Hon. Mr. Lang: Again, Yukon Energy Corporation is an armís-length corporation. The Yukon Utilities Board is built to be between us, and they obviously did their job.
Question re: Protected areas strategy
Mrs. Peter:Since this Yukon Party government came into office, the Yukon public has seen much change. In the Department of Environment those changes were immediate when we saw the Yukon protected areas strategy discontinued.
Will the Minister of Environment tell us how this change has affected the department?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: We have seen change and itís very good to be recognized for that. Within four days of putting the YPAS strategy on hold, we were able to announce the formation of the first park under that initiative. We are very proud of that.
I am also confused when I look at a news release here, dated April 24, 2002, announcing very much the same thing that we did. I was very pleased to see that the Liberal Party had the same feeling that we did, that this was a flawed policy. We have to go back; we have to look at this, examine it and make sure that the future direction for protected areas is consistent with what the people of Yukon want, and we are very happy to do that.
Mrs. Peter: We are aware that the Yukon protected areas strategy staff was moved to another branch within this department. What are the duties of that staff now that the Yukon protected areas strategy has been eliminated?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I can confirm for the member opposite that the staff involved in the YPAS and the work around it has indeed moved. They were moved ó or are being moved next week ó because of a normal expiration of the lease at the old weather station on the Alaska Highway. They will be moving into newly renovated quarters on the second floor of 10 Burns Road, which is the headquarters of our department. This is a part of a normal move. It has been planned for over a year and it will see a significant cost savings except for the fact the lease on 10 Burns Road was extended by the previous government for a further eight years to another 10-year commitment, and we are now committed to that rather than being able to use space in other parts of the government. But, yes, they did move and it has been planned for over a year.
Mrs. Peter: The staff will be shuffled around and transferred to another branch within this department and no jobs have been eliminated. There is a 43-percent cut to the capital budget for parks and resource assessment. Does this mean a change in the resource assessment policy for the Department of Environment?
Hon. Mr. Kenyon: I am afraid the member oppositeís question reflects a rather alarming misunderstanding of what is going on here. As I mentioned, the staff have been moved to a more central location to the rest of the department ó to be more a part of it ó at a significant cost-savings in at least being able to divest ourselves of one rental area. There is a significant reduction in the capital spending, which, if we ever get to that point, we will hopefully be able to debate in this House. Part of that is on recommendation of elders from Tr'ondëk Hwëch'in who have asked that we look at the movement of wildlife through Tombstone Park and that we reconsider where the interpretive centre might be located. Instead of a very large capital outlay for what some people have called the Taj Mahal, we have looked at a more reasonable way to do that and we have, with internal funding, been able to almost triple the space that is available for our staff up there, which also gives conservation officers a home on their patrols and will eventually give residential space for the people who are doing the construction up there.
Yes, there is a reduction and it is at the request, ironically, of the First Nation elders and we are very pleased to accept those recommendations from the elders. We certainly arenít going to go against them as the member opposite might suggest.
Speaker: The time for Question Period has now elapsed and we will proceed to Orders of the Day.
ORDERS OF THE DAY
Bill No. 32: Second Reading
Clerk:Second reading, Bill No. 32, standing in the name of the hon. Mr. Fentie.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that Bill No. 32, entitled First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, be now read a second time.
Speaker: It has been moved by the Acting Premier that Bill No. 32, entitled First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, be now read a second time.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís my pleasure to present this bill, the First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act, for second reading.
Indemnification, or agreeing to compensate for damage, injury or death if at fault, is one of the legal steps the Yukon government must take for certain contracts and agreements we will be assigned under the devolution transfer agreement.
As a result of the devolution of Northern Affairs programs, the Yukon government will be responsible for fire suppression as of April 1 of this year.
As part of the negotiations of Northern Affairs programs and service transfer agreements, Canada entered into contracts with eight First Nations for the provision of fire management services in each of their traditional territories. The Yukon government is required, under the devolution transfer agreement, to assume these fire management contracts. It is also expected that the Yukon government will enter into similar contracts with First Nations in the future.
These agreements contain an indemnification of the First Nations by government. The Yukon Financial Administration Act provides that a contract that contains an indemnification must be authorized by an act.
Mr. Speaker, this bill authorizes the Yukon government to assume these agreements as required under the devolution transfer agreement and to enter into similar fire management agreements in the future with First Nations. It reflects the Yukon governmentís commitment to develop and maintain cooperative relations with Yukon First Nations and to meet our commitments in the devolution transfer agreement. It will also ensure that firefighting contracts can be carried out throughout the Yukon in a business-as-usual manner.
Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Hardy: I just have a couple of points Iíd like to make, a couple of concerns regarding this. As the minister has indicated, it is something thatís part of the devolution transfer agreement, and itís something that should be recognized and continued.
However, I believe that, in all types of these kinds of agreements, consultation must be a part of it, whether itís for the present agreement that we do have today with the First Nations in regard to the fire management or future contracts that will be drawn up ó the consultation should be broad enough and inclusive enough that all parties feel that the interests are properly met. There is also a concern, which Iíve heard before over quite a few months, and that is the concern about enough money being negotiated under devolution to ensure that funds are in place to cover these types of agreements.
As Iím sure you know, Mr. Speaker, the predictions for the weather for the fire season this year could be substantially higher than what weíve seen in the past. If that is the case, we may be facing a substantial amount of capital outlay over this year, possibly next year and the year after. Our concern, of course, would be that the negotiations around the money by the previous government are enough to cover these agreements, as well as the future agreements.
Ms. Duncan: I am pleased to rise in support of Bill No. 32, the First Nation Indemnification (Fire Management) Act. This is part of the devolution transfer agreement, as signed by the Liberal government. There are going to be, as Iíve noted before, a number of miscellaneous short acts that are going to have to come before this Legislature. The more we work with pieces of legislation ó the five pieces of legislation we recently passed ó and the more we work with the devolution transfer agreement, weíre going to see these sorts of short amendments come forward. I appreciate that, as legislators, we need to perform our due diligence upon them and scrutinize them carefully.
In this particular instance, though, this is an indemnification act that is a result of section 61 of our Financial Administration Act.
Weíve seen this before on many occasions. In the previous Legislature, I can recall we were required to do a similar indemnification act for the Canadian Blood Services Agency. So itís fairly routine. Itís part of the Financial Administration Act. Itís a requirement of that, and itís also a requirement of the devolution transfer agreement. The more we work with it, weíre going to see a number of similar sorts of short pieces of legislation come forward.
So I commend the government for ensuring this was brought forward in a timely manner, and the devolution transfer is something that, as signed by our government, weíre very much looking forward to April 1, as are all Yukoners.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Iím pleased to support the bill.
Mr. McRobb: We on this side, as stated by our leader, look forward to the integration of firefighting services in the Yukon in the post-devolution era.
What I would like to do is put the minister on notice that we will be requesting some specific information during Committee debate on this bill, such as the governmentís firefighting policy, an inventory list complete with locations in the territory of all firefighting equipment, and a Yukon-wide priority designation map, if you will, that clearly outlines which are high priorities and which are low priorities for this government in terms of forest fire fighting.
In addition, as pointed out, this coming fire season has the makings of being severe. Letís hope it doesnít come to that, Mr. Speaker. Letís hope we get early summer rain, even late spring rain, that can dowse the situation.
But I know from reading the recent DIAND snow survey bulletin, a lot of the watersheds are running about 25 to 30 percent of their average snow pack, and this translates to very dry conditions in the bush and on the ground, and low stream flows and even low lake levels in a lot of areas, Mr. Speaker.
What Iíd like to know is: does this government have a contingency plan to deal with what could be a severe fire season coming very quickly? These are all questions that the government can prepare answers to between now and when this comes up in Committee.
Speaker: If the member now speaks, he will close debate. Does any other member wish to be heard?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is indeed a great day for the Yukon. The member of the third party and I finally agreed on an area. Mr. Speaker, the understanding that the leader of the third party has on this issue is abundantly clear: it is required under our Financial Administration Act; itís through the devolution transfer agreement. I want to thank the leader of the third party for her support on this initiative.
As to the questions brought forward by the official opposition, Mr. Speaker, I will take those questions under advisement but, by and large, they do not pertain to this area or this bill. There is one thing we as elected officials can do, but the one thing we cannot do is predict the weather or whatís going to transpire in that area, so we canít go there.
With respect to questions pertaining to the indemnification as required under the mirror legislation that has passed this House, this is stemming from the mirror legislation, Mr. Speaker, and it is a requirement under the Financial Administration Act. I will look forward to possibly debating it line by line with the members opposite, but I want to thank the leader of the third party for her support on this.
Motion for second reading of Bill No. 32 agreed to
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I move that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Speaker: It has been moved by the government House leader that the Speaker do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve into Committee of the Whole.
Motion agreed to
Speaker leaves the Chair
COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE
Chair:I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. The business before the Committee is Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03.
Do members wish a brief recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: Weíll stand in recess for 15 minutes.
Bill No. 2 ó Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03 ó continued
Department of Health and Social Services ó continued
Chair:Committee of the Whole will now come to order.
The Chair has reviewed past practices of the House regarding debate and discussion of budget documents. While the purpose of the debate is to approve expenditures, past practices have allowed discussion of budget items of a negative amount or of a non-change. So when we proceed through, line by line, the Chair will provide the opportunity for questions on all budget items, including recoveries.
We will deal with recoveries as a general question.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: When we left general debate on this supplementary, we were in Health and Social Services and the leader of the third party was severely chastizing me, as minister, for not doing enough in a number of areas and not knowing a number of the areas that we are involved in.
I would just like to put on the record a number of the programs and initiatives in which our government is involved and is doing an excellent job. If you want to look at the non-governmental organizations that are funded directly by our government ó and we have maintained funding across the board for the various categories.
For the record, you only have to look at the teen parent access to education program, which we are funding again; the Skookum Jim Friendship Centre, which we are funding in part for $30,000; the Child Development Centre, which is $1,241,000. We also have given a commitment to the Child Development Centre for additional funding to meet their budget expectations in this forthcoming year as well as being involved in the FASD initiative. In addition to that, the womenís transition home, Kausheeís Place, $632,000, and that is coupled with the Dawson shelter which is at $142,000. The two organizations net out at the same. The amount of funding for the categories is virtually the same, but weíve had to put money where the demand is. The demand for double staffing did not occur at the shelter in Dawson City given that its occupancy was down considerably. There were no occupants in the shelter in January, February, March, April and May of last year, and they had four bed nights in June, four bed nights in July and 20 bed nights in August and no occupancy in September, October, November and December.
Thatís just for the last calendar year, Mr. Chair. So the demand is at Kausheeís, and that establishment is meeting the demand ó in fact, itís running pretty close to full ó and our government had to move $50,000 in this yearís forthcoming budget from the womenís shelter in Dawson to Kausheeís and give a commitment to both of these shelters that, if the demand increased on these facilities, our government was prepared to come back and provide additional funding to these respective organizations. We recognize the need and we will address the need if it increases or develops.
In addition to that, Mr. Chair, the Help and Hope for Families Society in Watson Lake receives $192,000, Hospice Yukon Society receives $145,000, the Yukon Council on Ageing receives $40,000, Yukon Association for Community Living receives $50,000, Challenge receives $428,000, Line of Life receives $20,000, the Salvation Army receives $40,000, the Signpost Seniors receives $40,000, TeegathaíOh Zheh day programs receives $308,000, TeegathaíOh Zheh adult placement programs receives $464,000, AIDS Yukon Alliance/Blood Ties Four Directions Centre receives $139,000, the Second Opinion Society receives $90,000, and the Yukon Family Services Association receives $820,000.
Now, Mr. Chair, our government is coming under severe pressure from a number of these organizations, because the federal government has added funding in a number of areas through what are termed "boutique programs" to a number of these initiatives, and very capable NGOs. At the end of the day, the federal government has backed out, and there is an expectation that the Yukon government will come to the table and provide additional funding. Our budget envelope is such that we do not have that flexibility to the extent that we would like. That said, organizations like Yukon Family Services Association, with their funding, have been able to lever out of the federal government tremendous amounts of money, and theyíve done an excellent job at providing additional services like the van and the needle exchange program. But, at the end of the day, the feds have backed out. Those Liberals in Ottawa have just backed out of another initiative, and weíre left here, and we as a government are being asked to fill the void. Well, we will do the best we can within the budget envelope we have, Mr. Chair.
One of the other initiatives thatís jointly shared by Yukon and the Government of Canada was the reduction in tobacco usage, the tobacco cessation project. The money was received from the federal government. Itís for a mass media campaign. Itís not to be used for programming. That is part of our contribution agreement; it is part of the contribution agreement that the federal government has signed with many other Canadian jurisdictions and agencies across the country. What this money came to us as was a mass media, and youíll see the placards on the sides of the buses. Our government is very committed to tobacco use reduction. Itís impacting significantly on our health system. Tobacco kills; itís a reality.
Where we have to start is right at the beginning. Our programs in the schools appear to be working. Iíve had parents come to me and say that their son or daughter came home from school and caught one of them smoking and gave them heck for smoking, and told them to quit. Thatís part of the expenditure of this federal money that our government is implementing, and itís being implemented right at the bottom end. Itís directed at the schools, at our youth, and weíll hopefully have results. Here in the Yukon, our rate of smoking is twice the national average ó about 34 percent.
Itís very serious and it is an area that we have to address. There was a question on Tuesday from the member opposite about the fact that we havenít taken the money and put it into programming. Our contribution agreement with Canada specifically outlines the area where we have to direct that money. It is not programming money. We cannot do so; otherwise we would breach this agreement with Canada. So the suggestion that we could put this money into programming is incorrect. It has to be used for the purpose in our contribution agreement with Canada. It was our government that applied for funding under the mass media campaign, and it is from Health Canada. One of the best and most effective ways to reach smokers is through an advertising campaign. You only have to go pick up a pack of cigarettes today, and you look at it and, my gosh, itís enough to turn one off. The ads on the side of a pack of cigarettes are almost revolting. Our campaigns are out there now. The placards are on the side of Whitehorse Transit buses and you will see a lot of the ads in the various newspapers that are circulated around the Yukon. We are going to have to implement a behavioural change. The easiest place to start is with the youth in our society in the schools, pre-schools and then work on up.
Tobacco addiction is one of the hardest addictions to kick, and Iíve had that conveyed to me by many, many people and many health authorities. Itís one of the hardest ones to deal with. So weíre taking the money that the federal governments have committed to Yukon, and weíre using it for the purpose spelled out in our contribution agreement with Canada. Full stop.
Now, that contribution agreement with Canada has a sunset, and in a short period of time that money is going to be coming to a close, and we will have to either continue with the program, or perhaps the feds will have another initiative to which Yukon can reapply, obtain more funds, and continue with the campaign, because tobacco use here, Mr. Chair, is not going to go away. Weíve gone from over 50 percent of the population smoking down to 34. The Canadian average is around 17 percent. Itís still very, very high, and it is impacting on our health care. Across the north, north of 60, smoking is a problem, as is drug and alcohol use. Itís a problem that society has, and itís going to have to be addressed.
Mr. Chair, these initiatives are just some of the areas in which our government is hoping to effect change for healthy living here in the Yukon, and hopefully when this program concludes after two years, there will be more federal money that we can continue with.
Now, one of the other areas that I would like to share with the member opposite that was a very hot topic during the last election campaign that our department was responsible for is the issue of funding of daycare and day homes.
The government currently contributes a direct operating grant to day homes and daycare centres. In addition to that, there are subsidies to parents who have a child or children in a daycare or a day home. Now, currently across the Yukon there are just over 1,200 positions in daycares and day homes ó just over 1,200 licensed positions. They are not all fully occupied. But if we take the last year expenditure on this area for direct operating grants, which comes in at $1,738,000, and we take the subsidies for child care at $3.2 million, we come up to basically $5 million. It is just over $4,000 of direct government money going in for each child in the Yukon per year, either through the direct operating grant or in the subsidy ó just over $4,000 per child. Thatís a significant amount of money.
But our government is committed to both a short-term review of this undertaking ó in fact, by the end of the month we are going to be addressing the direct operating grant. In addition to that, we are going to be examining, over the next six-month period, ways of improving on this. This is just part of our governmentís commitment that we have in place with daycare providers and parents all across the Yukon who have children in this system.
The member of the third party was very critical of some of the areas she explored in this supplementary budget with me last Tuesday, and most of this expenditure was incurred under the previous administrationís watch. From here forward in this next budget cycle ó we have before us the budget ó I look forward to general debate in the mains for the next year, but what we have here is the conclusion and the signing-off of the money for the last fiscal period, for which the Yukon Liberal Party was responsible up until December 4. From December 4 to March 31, any expenditure incurred is under our watch, Mr. Chair, but a good deal of these commitments and financial commitments were made under the previous watch.
That said, Mr. Chair, I look forward to proceeding with general or line-by-line debate in this supplementary, and I look forward to constructive debate with the members opposite.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the ministerís comments in his opening statement were highly ó I donít want to use the term "entertaining" because that might be misinterpreted, but there are a few interpretations that need to be recognized.
In fact, letís deal with the last part first. The responsibility for expenditures under the territorial governmentís watch occurred as of November 5. Expenditures were made by the government on the side opposite.
For the member to suggest these are all expenditures of the previous government, when he previously stated that 60 percent of them are legislated, seems to be a rather meandering argument. Sixty percent of the expenditures in here, particularly of the first line, are legislated, which means we have to pay for them.
For the member opposite to suggest otherwise is perhaps not as complete as it could be.
I would just like to remind the minister, in reviewing the Blues, that there is information that is to be provided. Part of the information is what was contained in the special warrant for Health spending. I understood that was period 5. He may wish to outline what the Health expenditures were, and then subsequently. What was approved and when is to be provided, and the date of Kausheeís additional funding approval.
With respect to the tobacco funding, we had quite an extensive discussion. The minister is now telling the House that itís a contribution agreement, and I would ask that that be tabled or provided to the opposition parties. The fundamental point is that my concern is counselling help for individuals with addictions, including tobacco addictions. Now, the member is saying thatís programming, and this money from Ottawa couldnít be used to pay for it. Thatís new information to what he provided previously.
My concern is, with alcohol and drugs, with tobacco, we need counselling services.
For example, Mr. Chair, I note, during a Hockey Night in Canada broadcast, there will be a Government of Canada ad ó itís a very well done ad, itís in black and white, and it will show Bob, who canít seem to quit smoking, and then itíll say, "For help stopping smoking, call 1-800 Ö"
Now, I donít smoke, so I havenít had to call that number, but my question is, if a Yukoner called that number, to where would they be referred?
Where are the counselling services? If an adult picked up the phone, what would they get? Does the Government of Canada provide the services, or the Government of the Yukon? Or would they be told, because the person answering the phone didnít know where the Yukon was, to go down to Vancouver somewhere? So Iím concerned about people with addictions in the territory, and that includes people with tobacco addictions. It was a long-standing concern of my former colleague, and I would like to know how the minister ó it hasnít been addressed in the supplementary. I will be asking again in the mains. How do we intend to address this?
There was a discussion with the Finance minister about the contribution agreement with Canada for the additional health money that is coming. The Finance minister assured me on the floor of the House that it will be spent on health, that it will be part of, again, a contribution agreement, and he assured me that I would receive a copy of it. And I understand that Finance officials are working very closely with the Government of Canada on this and that hopefully it will be concluded soon and that the additional $20 million agreed upon will flow to the territory soon.
That being the case, certainly a portion of it will be for this fiscal year, which will begin in a few short days. Now, the time for tabling a supplementary has passed. Perhaps the Minister of Health will indicate: given that all this additional money will be for health, will we see a Health supplementary very soon?
The other points I would like to ask about in general debate ó there are a couple of questions left outstanding from the previous days. There was additional money set aside for systems development, voted for systems development in this supplementary. I asked the Health minister if that was for systems development in family and childrenís services, as was one of the recommendations of the Child Welfare League of Canada report, but I didnít get an answer to that.
There is additional funding that is supposedly for social workers. The Health minister says it is an additional $200,000, but it is not clear if that is additional staff or if it is just covering off positions like a temporary assignment. My question: there is additional money; have we hired additional staff? Not are we just filling vacancies, but do we actually have more bodies performing this service on the part of the public and as was recommended? The minister keeps telling me that there is $67,000 dedicated to implementing the Child Welfare League of Canada report, but it is not clear how that money is being spent. Those are the outstanding questions that I have noted for now from our previous debate. If I could have an answer from the minister, I would appreciate it. To summarize, it is the specific questions around the implementation of the Child Welfare League of Canada, both systems and additional staffing. There is a question of there being one supplementary; will we see another with the additional money? I would also like a copy of the agreement on tobacco. I would also like the date of Kausheeís approval and also the date as to when we might expect the details around the approval dates for the additional expenditures before us.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Letís start at the beginning. The member opposite made a suggestion that our government was elected on November 4 and that we took over full control of the government that day. That is incorrect. Transition didnít take place until a later date. It was a holding pattern with the Liberal administration still firmly in charge until the date that our government was sworn in.
Their officials ó the Liberal administration was still in place. As a government, we did make a number of announcements but it was still a holding pattern and the Liberals were in power until our government was sworn in. That is clearly defined and set out in statute, and the member opposite might want to go back and have a look at this area and examine it fully.
We agree; we will provide the third party and the official opposition with a copy of the contribution agreement that Yukon has with Canada on the tobacco strategy. In fact, we will do it one better; we will provide the member opposite with a complete quit-smoking kit. That might assist her in her deliberations with her friends and colleagues who are having a hard time kicking the habit.
With respect to the amount of money for the computer system, this was again a contribution agreement with Canada under the Young Offenders Act and it was totally recoverable from Canada. As to the money that has been negotiated by the Premier of Nunavut, the Premier of the Northwest Territories and the Premier of Yukon with Canada for additional health care funding, we know it is $60 million. It hasnít been signed off. We donít have a contribution agreement as of yet with Canada. It is still being worked on by officials within the Department of Finance. Until such time as it is signed off, we canít spend the money.
Thereís going to be no lack of suggestions as to how to spend the money. I could share with the House that we have some very good ideas of our own and will be proceeding with programming and additions to the health care budget where they are needed. I can identify for the members opposite some of the areas where additional funding is required and will be going. The Whitehorse Hospital Corporation will require approximately an additional $2 million this year, as well as the Child Development Centre and FASSY. Those are some of the areas that are earmarked for additional funding. Itís not at the exclusive exception of other NGOs and entities, but itís an area we have committed to addressing and will be addressing from this additional budget envelope. And yes, there will be a supplementary and there will be a supplementary this next spring, 2004, with the mains that will be tabled at that time, and we probably will be encompassing to a large part the funding received for the health transfer from Canada and any other additional monies we receive from Canada, Mr. Chair.
We donít want to spend money until we have it, unlike the other government.
As to the $67,000 under the Child Welfare League of Canada recommendations, itís for planning implementation. That report is very wide-ranging in its recommendations. It is being reviewed and looked at. It is also proposing changes to group homes, among others.
The total cost of the implementation of all the recommendations of the Child Welfare League of Canada is over $8 million, and the member opposite knows full well the cost of implementation, because that report was before her government early last spring, and they chose to sit on it for the longest time.
The largest portion that is ó
Some Hon. Member: Point of order.
Point of order
Chair:Ms. Duncan, on the point of order.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, it would be casting aspersions to suggest that a government sat on a report and did not publicly release it, and I would ask the member to withdraw that, as he knows full well the date on the Child Welfare League of Canada report is June 2002.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thereís no point of order, just somebody being a little testy, Mr. Chair, in the opposite ranks.
Chair:The Chair has no way of knowing when the previous government received the report, so what we have here is a dispute between members.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, the third party ó
Chair:Order. If a member wishes to call a point of order, a member is certainly entitled to do that.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, seeing there was no point of order in the memberís point of order that was called, Mr. Chair, I must point out that the Child Welfare League of Canadaís recommendations were received by the Liberal government last spring, and they chose to sit on it. The cost of implementing the recommendations in that report is over $8 million.
And a significant part of it is for about 23 new positions, with a cost of over $5 million. Weíre starting down the road of implementing a lot of the recommendations contained in that report, and the example I can provide the member opposite is the PRIDE program with foster care families. That is now in place.
There is another $200,000 for additional social worker positions. It entails one full-time social worker, one part-time family support worker and one part-time support team worker. So weíre making inroads in this area. Itís not perfect. We have a long way to go.
The other part of the equation that weíre examining is the housing, because what was suggested was a whole series of smaller homes. There is a cost associated with double- and triple-staffing smaller homes for the same purpose as what we currently have with larger capacity homes. So again, itís dollar-driven and, as a government, we are cognizant of our responsibilities in this area. We know the problems weíve had in the past. Weíre fully aware of the reports that have been done in this area, and weíre working toward achieving some very positive results. Weíre not going to go at this helter-skelter. We have to do what is right for Yukoners and what is right for these children in care.
Thatís the bottom line. We have a legislated responsibility, and we have the Childrenís Act, which, which is out of date and is causing us a lot of grief. Under the previous Liberal administration, for two years nothing was done. Under the four years of the previous NDP administration, nothing was done. That, in part, has caused some of the problems we are seeing here. Our government is proactive in this initiative. Coming to Management Board in the very near future will be a submission regarding going forward on a new Childrenís Act. This is something that is going to take a period of time to develop. Itís not something that is going to occur overnight and it will be predicated on new funding coming from Ottawa under the transfer from Ottawa.
So there is a whole series of areas that our government has responsibilities for that have to be addressed. We will be addressing these in due course.
I thank the member for the questions. We will provide some of the information by letter to her and also provide the official opposition with that correspondence. As for the one legislative return that has been requested, that will be provided to the official opposition and the third party in due course.
Ms. Duncan: Well, Iím sure it wonít be a surprise to the minister that I take substantial issue with his comments. The fact that the Child Welfare League of Canada ó as a public document, as dated June 2002 indicates and the media release ó the very public media release issued by the previous government dated in July ó outlining the specific recommendations of the report and the governmentís response and intended comments flies in the face of the comments from the member opposite. The facts do not support his argument that he has brought forward to the House this afternoon, and I take issue with that.
This is a matter that our government was deeply concerned about. I am very well aware that the member opposite has used terms like "cognitive responsibility" and the member should be fully aware this is going to be a substantial cost. Well, yes it is, and we also happen to be talking about professional public servants, people who work for us and work on behalf of the taxpayers of the Yukon, and we are talking about children in care. The responsibility in both those instances runs very, very deep. I take that responsibility seriously. I did in government, and I do in opposition.
I would encourage the member opposite to take it seriously as well. The member opposite clearly hasnít read the report or the recommendations. If he had, he would recognize that the number one recommendation of the report is to address social worker and supervisor staffing shortfalls. He has not clearly indicated to this House that we have hired additional social workers in this area. He has not indicated that. We need additional social workers.
He has sought additional money and there is additional money in the supplementary. Why wasnít that specific recommendation addressed? Instead, the minister said we are not going to approach this helter-skelter, and we are going to be very organized about it all. Why pick the middle recommendations ó 6(a) continue to implement CanLAC and PRIDE? Why not mention CanLAC? If the government truly is taking this seriously and truly going to do something ó and I recognize there is a cost associated. The government makes choices. I am asking him to choose on behalf of the children and the people and families in crisis in this territory.
The issue of the Anglin report, which is where the recommendations were with respect to the foster homes, is an issue that I dealt with in general debate on Wednesday. Itís not an issue I raised at this point in time. There are two parts of the comprehensive review. What the minister has said is that this government intends to focus on the Childrenís Act as opposed to the recommendations of the Yukon children-in-care review, and they consider the legislative work to be more important and that, provided Ottawa sends some money, theyíll spend money on Yukon legislation.
What the minister has just clearly indicated is heís going to leave the staff ó which is suffering with a volume of work that exceeds generally accepted standards, that leaves families and children in crisis ó and heís not prepared to put resources toward it, although there is additional money in this supplementary. That causes me a great deal of concern. Iím gravely concerned about this issue. The minister needs to recognize his responsibilities in this area and address them. Iím simply asking the minister to address his responsibilities, to tell me on the floor of the House ó in the additional supplementary money ó how many additional social workers and supervisors weíve hired as a result of the staffing shortfalls that were noted in the Child Welfare League of Canada report. How many?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, letís just back up a little bit. What I said earlier in this House with respect to the receipt of this report by the previous Liberal government was that it was received last spring, and the leader of the third party said no, it wasnít. It was received on June 5. My understanding of the calendar is that we donít start summer until about June 21 so weíre kind of splitting hairs there. The report was received last spring and the previous Liberal government sat on it.
That said, what I indicated in this House just a few moments ago was that there is $200,000 in this supplementary for additional social work positions, and it entails one full-time social worker, one part-time family support worker, and one part-of-a-year support teen worker. So, $200,000 is wrapped in this supplementary for three individuals, three much-needed individuals. Thatís the start. Thatís in this supplementary. When the funds are confirmed from Canada, we will be moving forward on other initiatives in this area and we will be doing the job we are mandated to do and addressing our responsibility, but I donít know where the ability of this member opposite comes from to take numbers that are red and paint them black. Maybe that red was the colour of the Liberal Party but we prefer to work on the black side of the ledger.
Itís much more constructive to work on that side of the ledger. It does a lot more good, and the subsequent benefits that flow to all of us as a result of capable budgeting and cost controls while meeting the needs become very evident in a government. We will continue to do what is best for Yukoners and we look forward to meeting these needs.
The Child Welfare League of Canada has a number of recommendations. There is the Anglin report. There is the Trujillo report on group homes. There is no shortage of reports in this area on what we should do and how we should get to addressing these needs. But they all take a business plan, an implementation plan and money. Those are being looked at and this issue will be addressed.
At the same time, we are going to address a much-needed area that was completely overlooked by the two previous administrations. Itís a new Childrenís Act.
Ms. Duncan: The member opposite seems to know a great deal about what previous Cabinets have examined or not examined. The member said that there was one full-time social worker, one part-time family support worker and one part-time ó I believe he used the words "teen parent worker" ó as a result of these three ó he referred to it as three positions. In fact, I believe he said one full-time and two part-time.
Are these positions new positions within the department, or are these three individuals filling vacancies, temporary assignments elsewhere, stress leave? Are they three brand new positions in the department or are they just filling vacancies? What Iím trying to determine from the minister is: did we increase the actual number of staff, as was recommended?
I would note that only one part-time is in the family area, which is where the staffing shortfall was recommended to be addressed.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I donít know what path the member opposite is wandering down, Mr. Chair, but this supplementary contains $200,000 for additional social work positions. It entails one full-time social worker, one part-time family support worker and one part-year support team worker. So thereís $200,000 wrapped up in this supplementary for these three positions.
Ms. Duncan: And the minister has just stated for the record that these are three new positions in the department, so the staff complement is up by three and these arenít bodies that are filling in for people who have had to take stress leave or vacancies. These are three new positions is what the member opposite has said. Now, the member opposite has also said that there are any numbers of reports on the shelf. However, this government is going to focus their energies on the Childrenís Act, and he suggested there would be a Cabinet submission coming forward that they would be looking at the Childrenís Act. Clearly, the minister is bringing it forward. Iím curious as to whether he has any sense as to when the public consultation might begin on the Childrenís Act or any sense of how he might plan to deal with it. However, that is future work of the government and would not be in the supplementary, so Iíll leave the questions on that to the debate on the mains.
In respect to the supplementary, I still didnít hear an answer from the minister, and he may be repeating. Iíll just ask him if he wouldnít mind doing so. The money in systems development, the Child Welfare League of Canada recommended in terms of systems development that there be additional work in this area. Recommendation 13 was to explore information systems used by other jurisdictions. This department has sought additional money for systems. Is it in line with this, or is it for some other systems in the department?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the question has been asked and answered.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I said at the outset that I didnít recall and hadnít heard the memberís answer. Could he please outline what portion of the additional money for systems development is for this investigation of information systems used by other jurisdictions, as recommended by the Child Welfare League?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As a consequence of a meeting that I had with the minister from Alberta responsible for childrenís issues, I requested that we have a look at the computer system that the Government of Alberta has in place, and I confirmed that our government currently has staff in Alberta looking at this computer program. It looks like we can probably have access to the same program and implement it here at very little cost. So that looks like the way we will be proceeding on this initiative.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, Iím familiar with the accountability plans from Alberta and how we have examined those and how they work with respect to dealing with child welfare issues. Iím not familiar with this specific system. Is it for children in care or is it for some other function within the Health department?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I share with the member opposite the concern and knowledge she gained of the accountability plan that Alberta has in place, as do a lot of us here in Yukon, given the exercise that the previous administration put this government through for an accountability plan, Mr. Chair.
We are not there today. That accountability plan can be a useful tool for management, but there was a lot of effort expended on its implementation that was a very needless expenditure of the taxpayerís money.
That said, we are examining this computer program that is for children in care. It is a program that Alberta has in place. They have agreed to provide us with access to this program and, hopefully, a copy of it. It was developed for their use. Rather than go out and reinvent the wheel, it seems like the logical way to proceed.
Ms. Duncan: What the member opposite just said was that accountability is a needless expenditure and that some things from Alberta are good but not other things ó itís just that he knows best.
With respect to the supplementary in general debate, I would like to ask the minister to provide the information on a line-by-line basis as we go into debate rather than us having to ask for it each time. That concludes my questions in general debate.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: With respect to the member oppositeís remark on Alberta and their accountability plan, I certainly donít agree. The people in the Yukon spoke as to the Liberalsí accountability plan. They spoke at the last election, and what we are hoping to replicate up here in the Yukon is an economy similar in progress and similar in economic sustainability as Alberta has. That is what we are hoping to replicate.
Thatís the initiative. We have to move ahead and create an economy here, restore investor confidence. Thatís something weíd like to replicate that Alberta has in place, Mr. Chair. I look forward to going into line-by-line in this area.
Mr. Fairclough: I do have one question that Iíd like the minister to answer. Itís in regard to the family support workers in the communities. Weíve obviously had a debate here in the House about the expenditures and so on. The minister did say that the department is moving away from that in the community of Pelly Crossing and is bringing someone who is qualified as a social worker into the community of Pelly Crossing. Does the minister have any plans to have this type of position in any other communities?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We continue to have auxiliary on-call, and theyíre used as and when required, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: He didnít answer my question, Mr. Chair. There is a change in direction in Pelly Crossing. Someone is coming in with more qualifications, and this person is a social worker. So Iíd ask the minister if he had plans to have this type of worker in other communities?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What we have in Pelly Crossing is a social service worker, and weíre bringing in a social support worker. We have them in other communities as and where needed. In addition to that, weíll be using auxiliary on-call as and when required. So just to sum up, we have a social worker in Pelly Crossing and a social service worker weíre out recruiting for and hopefully will have in place very, very quickly. But as and when needed, we utilize the services of the auxiliary on-call individual in a number of communities.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister said they had a social service worker and a social support worker in Pelly Crossing. He is not referring to the family support worker; is that a different position?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There are three levels here. There is the social worker. Then there is the family support worker. Then there is the auxiliary on-call worker. In some cases, all three of these are utilized. The social worker is usually someone with a degree in the field who is more or less in charge of the programming and the program delivery in the community. The social service worker has a great measure of training and background in this area but is not a social worker. But the social service worker is the position that is being filled. Then we have the auxiliary on-call family support workers who are brought in and called upon as and when required. So there are three distinct categories, Mr. Chair: the social worker, the social service worker and the family support worker, which is auxiliary on call.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell us if all communities have these social support workers then? There are social workers and social support workers who, the member said, were going to be coming into the community of Pelly Crossing. I just want to know if all communities have these workers.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: When the demands on the social worker increase to a certain level, then the department provides a social service worker, and there are social service workers in place in Dawson and Watson Lake, for example. The community of Pelly has put a very high demand on the social worker there. This has demonstrated a need, and the department is putting in a social services worker, which position has a little lower rank or a little less training than a social worker, but both of them meet the demand. And then, if we still canít meet the demand with these two individuals, Mr. Chair, we bring in an auxiliary on-call family support worker to assist the social worker. So, there are three distinct levels.
Pelly is going through some difficult times, and the department is cognizant of these difficulties and is addressing the matter by providing a higher level of skilled worker to meet the communityís needs, and that is a social service worker.
Mr. Fairclough: Is there a social service worker in the community of Mayo?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: If we back up a few years ago, there used to be one social worker in Mayo who covered both Mayo and Pelly. The demand in Pelly grew and what transpired is ó in order to assist the social worker in Mayo, there was a social service worker in Mayo also. So, instead of keeping the social service worker in Mayo and the social worker in Mayo, two positions were created: one in Pelly and one in Mayo. The Mayo position for a social worker was maintained, but the social services worker, because they didnít have to cover Pelly, was no longer needed there, and that position was more or less served with an auxiliary on-call family support worker.
But the demand grew in Pelly Crossing, a social worker was placed in there, and now the demand is still there, so a social service worker will be there in addition to the social worker. Does that explain what has transpired? It is demand driven. Wherever the demand is, the department responds. And that is how the department has responded in this case.
Mr. Fairclough: I understand the way it has worked between the two communities. I certainly have been getting calls in regard to the family support worker and what took place with the budget and so on. I know that has been cut out of the budget, but the dollars are going to be found within the department to cover the costs of calling them into work. Is there not a demand in Mayo for a social service worker? I am asking this simply because people have talked to me about the desire for this position to be created in Mayo, and this may take care of the problem that we presently have with the auxiliary on-call.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The Nä Cho Nyäk Dun First Nation, since it has ratified, has taken on a lot of these programs. That said, the social worker that the department used to have in its employ in Mayo left and went to work for the First Nation government there and continued to deliver programs. So the demands on Yukonís system appear to be less as the First Nation government has taken on a lot of the responsibility for programming and program delivery.
The Government of Yukon is more or less being used as a backstop if there are difficulties in the First Nationsí program delivery for First Nations.
Mr. Fairclough: Iím glad that the member opposite is recognizing that the impact of First Nation final agreements are being felt and is actually loosening the belts of Yukon government. What Iíd like to do is ask the minister to talk with the community of Mayo on this subject ó just make that commitment ó to see where it can go if this is indeed needed compared to what services are being offered by the First Nation; If he can do that, I know the communities would certainly appreciate having that discussion, and could the minister also let me know how it went?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, as the member opposite pointed out, after the First Nation governments ratify, they do take on some of the responsibilities; but in Mayo there has been a considerably higher measure of success with their government, Nä Cho Nyäk Dun, taking on the responsibilities. And then we compare it to what has transpired in Pelly, with the government there taking on the responsibilities, and Government of Yukon has had to step in to a much greater extent there than ever before.
I will commit to the member opposite ó and I recognize itís his constituency ó that we will ask the department to get together with the First Nation governments and with the municipal governments and examine ways of bringing together a greater degree of cooperation and program delivery. Iíll make that commitment. I donít know when we can get that underway and report back, but itís always an ongoing objective of our government to be in constant contact with the respective governments, whether they be municipal governments or First Nation governments, especially when it comes to the provision of health care and social programming, Mr. Chair.
Mrs. Peter: I just have a few questions for the minister in regard to the social service worker in Old Crow. We havenít had a position such as that in the community for a number of years. We used to have a position there and there hasnít been a position such as a social service worker for a long, long time. In the accord that was signed between Vuntut Gwitchin and the Liberal government, one of the priorities listed was to address that situation and those kinds of issues for our community. Not only are we an isolated community, as you all well know, the services that we receive in that area are inadequate.
Some of the members of the community do not have access to the First Nation programs and services, and they are caught between two services that are not able to meet their needs in the community. When they do need access to the Yukon territorial social services, they have to call Dawson. There is a 1-800 number there and they have to call this number whether it be after-hours or during the day. Sometimes it takes awhile to get back to the person whose needs need to be met and that service is not adequate in most circumstances, especially in emergencies.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the member opposite is quite correct in what she has said ó a very accurate reflection of what has transpired. The department previously had social workers dedicated to Old Crow and, since the Vuntut Gwitchin has achieved settlement, they have taken on a lot of the programming themselves. In those areas ó the programming and the people the Vuntut Gwitchin have on staff ó there are no programs in place to cover non-members of their First Nation. Yes, the 1-800 line is to Dawson. Itís to the social worker in Dawson, and issues of child care and child custody are dealt with by the social worker out of Dawson City, who regularly commutes to Old Crow for this purpose, Mr. Chair.
Now, that said, there isnít anything to preclude the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation from entering into an arrangement with the Government of Yukon, Health and Social Services, to address this additional need. So, I put that offer on the table, and Iíll ask the officials in the department to get in touch with the Vuntut Gwitchin and see where there may be some lapses that we could cooperatively address within existing budget envelopes. I believe thereís an area of cooperation where, if we work together, we can provide a broad range of services for all people of Old Crow.
Mrs. Peter: I thank the minister for that answer, and we will address that issue with the minister. Furthermore, most of the issues and situations that are being addressed in this social area in the community ó some are very serious.
As far as I understood, there were discussions taking place with the Department of Health and Social Services. I am wondering if the minister is aware of any type of ongoing talks that are happening with the Vuntut Gwitchin.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: What the member opposite, I believe, is referring to ó and I ask if she would confirm it ó is the PSTA process under the land claim final agreement. Is that the area?
Mrs. Peter: No, I am not addressing PSTAs. I am addressing the accord that was signed between the previous government and the Vuntut Gwitchin in the area of health and social services. I believe there were some discussions that took place to address the area of the social service worker in Old Crow, and something was to take effect with the hours and also some funding being allocated to Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation to address the concerns that we have.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: We will have to go back and get the details, which the member has brought forward, but what we are offering to do is covered off in the accord ó to sit down with the members of the First Nation community in Old Crow and come to some sort of agreement on service delivery and the model. The principal reason the department is involved in social issues in Old Crow is under the area of child care and child apprehension. The member opposite is quite right that it is a very serious area and an area that the social workers spend a lot of time in Old Crow on.
Thatís an area that appears to be quite difficult for the department to address, but it is being addressed. As to some of the other programs, the department is quite ready to sit down with the Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation and come to some arrangement on program delivery for the community of Old Crow.
Mrs. Peter: I just want to state again for the record that this is an area of grave concern for our community. It has been an area of concern for over 10 years now, and weíve addressed this issue over and over and over again with various people. Iím glad to hear that the minister is able to sit down with the leadership of the Vuntut Gwitchin and address this issue.
I hope we can come to some commitment in that area, because when we have to address serious social issues in the community, it is members of the community who play a role. The social worker who works for Vuntut Gwitchin doesnít have a lot of authority to address some of the serious issues we have. Under the social services program through YTG, they offer social assistance and they offer other programs that members of my community do need. These programs are offered throughout the territory and, again, I just want to stress that, just because we are an isolated community, it doesnít mean we have to be deprived of programs that are offered.
Again, I would just like to thank the minister for that offer. We will take him up on that offer.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, Mr. Chair, the department did have a social worker in Old Crow, but that goes back to quite a number of years ago. Since the settlement of land claims in the community, the responsibility for a lot of these programs has devolved to the First Nation government and theyíre delivering the programs.
Now, the biggest area of concern for the department in Old Crow surrounds the issue of children. Our biggest problem is the Childrenís Act, because the Childrenís Act that currently exists in the Yukon places total responsibility with the director in the Government of Yukon responsible for that area, and it is a tremendous burden that that individual carries. Most of the social workersí work that is undertaken in Old Crow surrounds issues of child apprehension and related difficulties. Itís an area that is going to take a new childrenís act to address. And itís an initiative that, as I stated earlier, is going to be addressed by our government, and I know the opposition is going to get up and ask what the timelines are for consultation and everything, but weíre just at the beginning of this undertaking and itís probably going to be a couple of years before anything comes forward in this Legislature. Thatís a sad part of it.
But the recommendations that have come forward to me are for a childrenís act very similar to what British Columbia has recently approved in their legislature, and it has a whole section dealing with the aboriginal people in British Columbia.
That said, the recommendations that I see coming to my office are that we should be having similar provisions in a new Yukon childrenís act, and that will be part of the area that is being examined and looked at by whomever we task with this responsibility, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further general debate? Hearing none, we will continue on with line-by-line.
On Operation and Maintenance Expenditures
On Policy, Planning and Administration
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I asked previously for the minister to give us a line-by-line explanation, as has been the practice in this House.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, under policy, planning and administration, there is a $348,000 increase. This increase is a result of the following items. There is a $98,000 increase as a result of hosting the 4th annual Prairie North FAS conference in Whitehorse in May 2002. That amount is fully recoverable. What we have had is a $530,000 cost due to the government being out actively recruiting and advertising for new health care providers and a broad range of health care related people, and it also includes their relocation costs.
Costs this year have exceeded last yearís period in 2001-02. These expenditure lines were almost $400,000 overbudget. This year, we have also been absorbing the cost of local advertising that was previously done by the Public Service Commission, so the department is undertaking direct advertising.
There has been a small savings as a result of problems with staffing, and we havenít been able to staff as soon as possible. There were some temporary vacancies in Personnel and Finance, many of which have now been staffed.
Ms. Duncan: The member mentioned in the discussion of the $530,000 additional money in this line that it was used for the recruitment of new health care providers and also relocation costs. Can he outline how much of this additional money is relocation costs?
The minister also indicated that there were some savings because there were some temporary vacancies and so on. Is this particular part of the Health and Social Services department at the time of this supplementary now fully staffed?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The exact breakdown as to what the relocation costs are in this line item will have to be provided to the member opposite in due course. No, all the positions across the department are not fully staffed in this area. We are still out recruiting and are still outside of the Yukon for a lot of these positions and actively recruiting for them.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps, as opposed to relocation costs, if we could just have some sense of the accountability for this money. How many people were we able to recruit? Perhaps the department could provide me with that information. We spent money recruiting new health care providers. Were we able to recruit six or 12, and what is the return on investment, so to speak?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is recruitment across the whole department and, in the Department of Health and Social Services, there are over 800 employees, so the recruitment and relocation is an ongoing process, and the vacancy rate is currently about 50 to 60 positions. It does fluctuate up and down, and some of the positions are very difficult to staff. We are constantly out recruiting and, as soon as we hire someone, we relocate them to the Yukon and put them to work.
Ms. Duncan: Perhaps the minister didnít hear the question. I did ask earlier about relocation costs. I followed up by saying that we spent an additional $530,000 on recruiting. I am asking how successful that was. Iím not asking how many vacancies there are in this question. I am saying that the department has spent taxpayersí money on recruitment. How successful was it? Were we able to recruit 20 people for $530,000? Were we able to recruit 200? Iím just asking how successful it was. Itís just accountability, Mr. Chair.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, for the member opposite, across the whole department, we spent just a little less than $1 million on advertising, recruitment and relocation. As to the exact number of people we have recruited, we will provide the member opposite with that number.
Ms. Duncan: Does the member have a ballpark idea? If not, then fine; I can wait for the detail but Iím just getting some kind of assessment of how successful this was ó a performance indicator. This is roughly $1 million. Is it generally successful? Does he have any kind of an idea? I am sure he does; he knows his department so well.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Once again, it is by category. The recruitment in some areas of health care professionals and providers was more successful than in other areas, so it varies by type. I canít provide any further detail than that, other than itís across the department and it encompasses over 800 individuals. The exact number of recruitments that took place and people who relocated to the Yukon during this fiscal cycle ó we will provide the member opposite with that information.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I just want to be clear. I donít want departmental officials to spend hours providing me with ó there were 10 nurses and 25 nurse practitioners and 16 CNAs. What Iím looking for is ó we spend a million dollars and we are able to recruit approximately 500. The minister said there were 800 positions across the department, with roughly 50 to 60 positions vacant at any given time. So, as a result of spending a million dollars a year of taxpayersí money, weíre able to generally fill 60 positions. Iím just looking for general information. I donít want the officials to have to spend hours and hours on this. I would just like some general information.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I understand weíre in general debate on this line, Mr. Chair, if you want to refer to it as that. But, rather than being broad and general in this area, I believe it is our responsibility to be specific. So, weíll get the exact numbers for the member opposite, but we do have a serious problem recruiting and retaining a number of health care professionals, and weíre going to be doing something about it, as a government.
Now, weíre achieving some success in some categories, and in other categories weíre having one heck of a problem. Weíll do our level best to do what it takes to either enhance the program for that specific area or whatever itís going to take to fulfill these needs. In some cases, we might never be able to fill some of these categories, given the current conditions that exist elsewhere, unless we examine the whole package for that area.
So, that said, currently out of 800 across the department, there are 50 to 60 vacancies. If you want to use the 50 to 60, I donít want to be held to that. Iím sorry, Mr. Chair; itís my responsibility to be exact in the information I provide in this Legislature, and I will be doing that.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, just a reminder for the minister, itís also his responsibility to ensure we have that in a timely manner, so Iím sure heíll provide it before we get into the mains and the budget. Thank you.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This information will be provided in due course. Itís not information thatís going to take a day or two to assemble.
Chair: Is there further discussion of policy, planning and administration?
Policy, Planning and Administration in the amount of $348,000 agreed to
On Family and Childrenís Services
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Under family and childrenís services branch, we have a $1,179,000 increase. This increase results from the following items: there is a $50,000 increase in the contract with Kausheeís Place. They required it for double staffing at night. There is $67,000 increase to prepare an implementation plan to address the issues of the children in care review. There was no funding allocated in the mains last year. Thereís also a $64,000 increase in the contribution agreement with the Kwanlin Dun First Nation for the Advisory Council on First Nations Child Welfare. There was a $12,000 increase in adoption subsidies. There are six more special needs adoptions that require a subsidy, and that began in December of 2002, Mr. Chair.
Thereís a $200,000 increase in salaries and that was for additional social work positions for family support and children protection teams, additional family support workers for a family support team and an additional social worker for children in care. These increases were recommended in the CIC review to address caseloads and client/staff ratios. Thereís a $47,000 increase in the respite care budget. The budget was increased to cover current spending trends and address the increased demand for respite services. Spending has increased from $18,000 in 2001-02 to $41,000 in 2001-02 and to a forecast of $92,000 in 2002-03.
There was also a $100,000 increase in foster care special rates. This increase addresses the projected costs of special foster rates, taking into account the year-to-date spending.
Also, Mr. Chair, there is a $100,000 increase in Youth Criminal Justice Act bridging and the federal government will be paying this. Itís fully recoverable from Canada. Also, there is a $114,000 increase in out-of-territory placements. Thereís a $257,000 increase for salaries for one of the group homes. Thereís another $27,000 increase for operating costs for one of the group homes, and thereís another $182,000 increase in funding for one of the residences.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the $67,000 to prepare an implementation plan has been mentioned several times by the minister. Is this a contracted position? Has someone been contracted to prepare this implementation plan? Where and how is this $67,000 being spent?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This initiative is being done in-house.
Ms. Duncan: If it is being done in-house, how is the $67,000 being spent?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There have been a number of assessments of group homes undertaken, and there has been quite a bit of travel involved to meet with First Nations.
Ms. Duncan: So there have been assessments done on group homes by in-house staff and there has been travel involved, so wouldnít that travel normally be covered under normal expenditures of the ó itís being done in-house, so you have X amount of money in your budget year for staff and X amount of money for travel by staff. And itís being done in-house and people have been directed to examine the report and determine how itís going to be implemented ó and possibly the Anglin report. I am still not clear from the memberís answer exactly how that money is being spent.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Probably so much of the departmentís time was being taken up with developing the accountability plan and the renewal programs that the previous administration underwent that we were at maximum capacity, so there was only so much capacity within the department and the department had to go beyond its scope to address these issues as contained in this report.
Ms. Duncan: If we were to take the member opposite at his word, we have hired someone else to do this, but he said no, it is being done in-house. And just for the memberís edification, Health and Social Services, although it was requested by a number of the staff as they attended renewal meetings ó the 800-plus comments we received ó work was done in-house. There werenít additional costs that showed up in the budget, and Health was not involved in that.
Health was not moved. Health was not accepting devolution employees. They had already done devolution. So, how has this $67,000 been spent? Have we had to incur another $30,000 in travel as people travelled about the Yukon? How has this money been spent? Itís really simple.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The question was asked and answered. This is the second time.
Ms. Duncan: The question has not been answered. The member said assessment of group homes and travel. I would like the member to provide me with a copy of the implementation plan, and I would like a breakdown of that $67,000. Two things: a copy of the implementation plan, because there was $67,000 to develop it ó he is asking for House approval on it ó and a breakdown as to how that $67,000 was spent.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The implementation plan that was developed just recently under our watch has yet to go before Management Board. What weíre dealing with is the previous administration and their previous direction. So, Iím sure that the member opposite is fully conversant with what went on under her watch in Management Board and Cabinet, but that may or may not be the case. I donít know. I donít even know if Cabinet met last summer under her watch.
That said, the $67,000 is for reviews of the group home, in part. What that entails is not somebody going out and just walking around the building. What it entails is engaging property management agency to go and have a look at the physical property and do an assessment. It also entails hiring outside contractors to go in and look at the building from various aspects.
Now, these contracts that are issued ó and the engagement of the property management agency is still in-house but still costing the department. So, thatís part of the cost. From there, to get into a prolonged debate over $67,000, if the member wants to go there, we can get into the nickels and dimes of every item if she so wishes. But this is a supplementary under which some of these expenses were incurred under the previous administrationís watch, and the direction taken was the direction dictated by the previous Liberal administration. Any Management Board submission that took place under the previous administrationís watch, or any Cabinet Board submission under the previous administrationís watch ó I would be of the opinion that the Premier certainly should have been aware of it and be fully conversant with what transpired then. Am I hearing now that thatís certainly not the case, Mr. Chair?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, thereís an interesting phenomenon that develops from the minister opposite. Whenever he is unaware of whatís going on in his department or unable to answer the questions, I hear in the preliminary comments, "Well, the member opposite should have known," and a number of, in effect, personal remarks. I would characterize them as denigrating the focus and not answering the question, quite frankly.
The reality is that, in the supplementary, there are some expenditures that may have occurred under the previous watch, there are some that are legislated, and there are some that are very, very clearly the responsibility and the choice of the member opposite.
The member opposite is a member of the Management Board, or so the OIC says. He should be, as a minister responsible, fully aware of what is in the supplementary, what it contains. It is another interesting phenomenon that the more the member talks about a particular item the more we actually get some information. Now he is saying that the $67,000 for the site assessment of group homes is quite likely an expenditure that was transferred to property management agency who in turn contracted and did an assessment of the group homes. An assessment of the group homes isnít an implementation plan for the Child Welfare League of Canada report, which is how the minister characterized the expenditure and what he stated it was for. If this $67,000 was spent as the member has said ó on an implementation plan ó I would simply like to receive a copy of it.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: It is under our watch and we are preparing a plan and it has yet to go to Management Board. Until that time, I canít share it with the member opposite.
Ms. Duncan: I respect the confidentiality of Management Board and Cabinet documents. Once it has passed through that process, I would ask that the member provide it to us.
Family and Childrenís Services in the amount of $1,179,000 agreed to
On Social Services
Social Services in the amount of an underexpenditure of $397,000 agreed to
On Health Services
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There has been a $4.3-million increase in health services. There has been a $10,000 increase in program management and a $3,818,000 increase in insured health programs.
The major increase was a $1,190,000 increase to in-territory physiciansí costs as a consequence of the ratification of the agreement with the Yukon Medical Association. That also proved an increase of $180,000 to provide additional education, recruitment and retention initiatives. There are two additional contract doctors and an increase in out-of-territory medical doctor rates for $485,000. Medical travel expenses are going to come in a little bit underbudget. Thatís probably as a consequence of the arrival on the scene of Air North and the availability of lower rates in travelling on airlines, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate that there was a reduction in medical travel and that it can fluctuate. Have we seen increases over the past year from the rates charged by Alberta and British Columbia for our patients? What is the difference between the two?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, there have been increases from both Alberta and British Columbia. As to the exact dollar increases, they are forecasted ó a net overexpenditure of $1,150,000. B.C. rates increased 28 percent in April and a further 10 percent in August. Albertaís rates increased five percent in April and a further ó we donít have a handle on it yet, it depends on what category ó 15-to 20-percent increase in August of this last year.
Ms. Duncan: So, Mr. Chair, it seems to me that Iím hearing the minister say thereís a 38-percent increase overall in British Columbiaís rates and anywhere between a 20- and 25-percent increase in Albertaís. Thereís a decrease in the cost of travel. Also, one of the major benefits of Air North is their flights to Alberta. What Iím trying to determine is, are we seeing a greater number of patients make use of Alberta medical facilities and, given that they are a cheaper rate, are we encouraging this among our doctors?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The memberís correct. Weíre actually using Alberta a little bit more now than we had done in the past. Itís basically because of crowding in British Columbia. Most of the relationships are on a Yukon-B.C. basis, and weíre just having trouble getting into the facilities in Vancouver. As a consequence, weíre accessing facilities wherever we can, so weíre utilizing Alberta ó Edmonton and Calgary ó more frequently than we have in the past.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, have we made this point with YMA? Has the minister communicated in writing to the YMA, given the advantage of Air North travelling to Edmonton and Calgary and the cheaper rates we get from Alberta, to encourage doctors to, rather than wait in line in British Columbia, make greater use of Alberta? Have we followed this up and communicated it with YMA, and if not, would the minister undertake to do so?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There have been discussions with YMA on this initiative, but what happens more often than not, Mr. Chair, is the medical practitioners here in the Yukon develop a relationship with specialists in the other jurisdictions, and they very much like to work with them. Thatís what happens. So you have a Vancouver-Whitehorse relationship. When thereís no access to the facility in Vancouver, then the other areas are explored and, if something opens up in Edmonton or Calgary, that facility is utilized. As a consequence of the tremendous pressure on the health care providers in B.C., weíre having to use Alberta more often than not.
There have been discussions with the YMA here in the Yukon, but as they develop their relationships with the specialists, it is their determination and their relationship that usually accesses the facilities.
Ms. Duncan: I am quite well aware of that. I fully understand, as most of us do, that doctors develop a relationship. We quite frequently have a number of close relationships with British Columbia because of the way the air access has developed. I am asking my question in part for that reason and in part for other reasons. We saw a change in the business relationship, for example.
The minister says there have been some discussions with YMA. I am just asking the minister if he would more formally encourage the YMA in the development of their relationships with Alberta, given that it saves the Yukon taxpayersí money and weíve heard for days, ad infinitum, about the big, bad trajectory. There is a 25-percent increase in Albertaís rate versus a 38-percent increase in British Columbia. We know the problems with the medical community and the government in British Columbia. I am just asking the minister if he would formally encourage Yukon doctors to develop that Alberta relationship. Iím just asking a very simple, straightforward request of the minister.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There are ongoing discussions between the department and the YMA. There are ongoing discussions between the Hospital Corporation and the department. There have been meetings between me and, I might add, the Hospital Corporation for the first time in quite some time. There have been meetings between the YMA and me, and these are ongoing.
This suggestion has been brought forward, but once the relationships exist between the physicians here in the Yukon and the physicians in other jurisdictions, that relationship is usually maintained.
When the facilities are open in those areas, those are the facilities of choice for physicians here in the Yukon. For me to get involved and instruct them to move their people somewhere else, thatís not the way to proceed. Weíre cognizant of cost at all times. We know facilities in Alberta are somewhat less expensive, but it all depends on the availability of the facility and when beds open. Beds are pretty crowded in all jurisdictions, so we go where we can find an opening.
Mr. Fairclough: Can we expect this to go down even further with the type of equipment we have in the hospitals now, having our patients use the CT scan here in the territory? Is there an estimate of what type of savings weíll be looking at? I know that operating the CT scan is a huge cost to government ó some $400,000 ó and getting someone to analyze the data from that comes from elsewhere. Iím sure there would be a lot less travelling out of the Yukon for this, and so this one piece of equipment should be a savings to the Yukon.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member is absolutely right; itís a high-cost piece of equipment that, thanks to an initiative of the previous NDP government, was finally brought to fruition after great delays by the next Liberal administration. Thatís saving a considerable amount in travel costs and, yes, there are offsetting savings for travel, but the total overall cost has increased. Weíre hoping to concentrate and bring in more specialists to the Yukon in specific fields and reduce our medical travel in a number of areas.
That said, there is a savings in travel. There is more of a savings on the inconvenience to Yukoners of having to move outside of the territory for medical assistance than anything else.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister also said that there was $3.8 million going toward insured health care out of the $4.383 million. This line item itself is a huge line item of over $70 million, and we are bringing forward ó by special warrants ó in this supplementary an additional $4 million plus and this seems quite high. I am wondering: can the minister give us a brief explanation on that amount itself, or was part of his explanation to do with the $3.38 million?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This was a Management Board approval that took place in 2002 on October 1. There was an increase of $1.190 million to in-territory physician costs, and the ratification of the agreement with the Yukon Medical Association also approved an increase of $180,000 to provide additional educational recruitment retention initiatives. Also, this covers two additional contract doctors and a 10-percent increase in out-of-territory medical doctor rates, which are forecasted to increase medical claims by $485,000. We are looking at saving $60,000 on medical travel, and that is what I said earlier ó it is thanks to Air North and the advent of lower fares.
Also, under the insured health, the chronic disease, pharmacare, extended benefits and the childrenís drug and optical program, there is going to be an overexpenditure of $870,000 due to price and volume increases. There are now 61 additional active clients in the chronic disease program and 67 additional active clients in the pharmacare program. In addition to that, hearing aid costs will be $85,000 overbudget and, as I said earlier, hospital claims are forecasted at a net overexpenditure of $1,115,000 due to new in-patient and out-of-territory hospital costs. As I said earlier, B.C. rates increased 28 percent in April and a further 10 percent in August, and the Alberta rates increased five percent in April with a further 15 or 20 percent, depending on the category, in August.
Also, we did have a saving here ó there was a forecasted overexpenditure in medical travel subsidy. There is actually a lapse in medical travel. Thatís as I said earlier.
We also have a $105,000 increase in funding for health programs; this is for salary costs, which are forecasted to be somewhat under budget due to some temporary vacancies and staffing delays in mental health. Health promotion is forecasted to be a $25,000 overexpenditure in contracts alone and, of course, we have the mass media tobacco funding coming into place. It is in place now and is forecasted to spend $180,000 this year.
We have a $450,000 increase in funding for community nursing and additional medical services, and this breaks down as salary for ambulance attendants, mostly due to auxiliary and overtime. We expect that they will be $370,000 overbudget. Last year these overexpenditures were offset by vacancies, but all of those positions now have been filled. There is also $65,000 required to cover staff costs when the ambulance staff provides training sessions. There is also $30,000 to provide an additional clerical staff. Then there are community nursing and additional medical services. The Whitehorse Health Centre is expected to have an underexpenditure in salaries due to some temporary vacancies. In the community nursing, weíre forecasting a payout of travel per diems for relief nurses. It might cost us in excess of $130,000. This increase is due to a decision related to a grievance of the collective agreement regarding travel. Community nursing is also forecasting fuel cost increases in Old Crow to be $20,000 overbudget. In the past two years, the fuel tanks were not completely filled, and this year additional fuel was required. I guess we were paying the same ó 25,000 litres were used in 2001-02 at $1.19 per litre and in 2002 there were 45,000 litres and our costs were $1.16 per litre.
So weíre paying a pretty good chunk of dough and the consumption of fuel in Old Crow has gone up. So, all over the board weíve had significant cost increases and those are reflected in this supplementary.
Ms. Duncan: The Premierís council on health awareness and the Premierís agreement in January 2002 was to work toward dealing with the drug costs ó drug formulary, pharmacare. These issues were on the table. The current Health minister mentioned increases in these areas. Is the Health minister, then, saying that there has been no progress toward a common drug formulary and no progress on the pharmacare issues?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I would encourage the member opposite to listen. We have made some progress on costs. But what is driving it is that there are 61 additional active clients in the chronic disease program and 67 additional active clients in the pharmacare program.
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I encourage the minister opposite to listen. I understand volume increases. My question was: what progress has been made on a common drug formulary?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This program and initiative is how to deal with new drugs that are coming on the market. Itís not to deal with what we currently have and it wonít affect the savings in what we currently do. For example, if you want to look at the hepatitis C drugs, I believe there are 54 who are afflicted with hepatitis C across the Yukon. Itís $30,000 per year for the drug for one patient on the full-blown drug program.
Ms. Duncan: Could I just ask the minister ó I appreciate this is for new drugs. Occasionally, there are also new drugs proposed on a drug formulary that would reduce the cost. A new drug proposed for ó I think arthritis is one of the ones that Saskatchewan was dealing with over a year ago. We were going to make some progress on this. Have we made any progress? Drug costs are huge, one of the major cost drivers in the health care system. I am looking to hear if there has been some progress made. Also, with respect to pharmacare, there are some issues around not just volume increases, but also some options in terms of how government deals with pharmacare programs. Has there been any progress made and any initiatives in that respect to try and lower these costs?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The common drug formulary of the Yukon is part of the process. For any of the new drugs that come into place, we are part of the group that examines them and makes a determination. The member said there are new drugs. That is absolutely correct. Most of the drivers are these new drugs at increasingly higher and higher costs. That is one of the major drivers.
Ms. Duncan: With respect to working toward a common drug formulary, there are also drugs that are covered in the Yukon that are not covered in New Brunswick and not covered in some places in eastern Canada. Some provinces have made moves to reduce that. We are in line with Saskatchewan, as I understand it. If Saskatchewan approves it, we also follow. The premiers were working with their Health ministers toward perhaps not covering as many drugs, reducing the common drug formulary, trying to see if there were some savings and, most often, the new drugs are most expensive and, occasionally, they will also find a drug that is cheaper. I am looking to hear if, either at the Premiers Council or at the Health ministers, if there has been progress made in this area, but I am not hearing any.
We perhaps havenít added any new drugs and we havenít reduced our costs, either. The minister didnít answer the question: is the Yukon Party government looking at ways to deal with the pharmacare increased costs using other carriers? Is there any research or work being undertaken by the Yukon Party government in this respect?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, thereís a common review, and, yes, weíre making some progress. There are some policy initiatives that have begun and are underway, and, yes, we have one of the best and most comprehensive drug plans in Canada. As a consequence, we are attracting individuals here to the Yukon because of our drug plan and how readily accessible this drug plan is, Mr. Chair.
So, yes on all counts. Weíre examining our options and weíre looking at some other initiatives, and itís a review of the prescription drugs that are provided. Alberta has a program to examine wastage in the prescription drug end of it ó for duplication or not-used prescriptions that are filled, resulting in wastage in the system. Itís being looked at and, hopefully, applied here in Yukon, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further debate on health services?
Health Services in the amount of $4,383,000 agreed to
Chair: Do members wish a 15-minute recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Chair: We will now stand in recess for 15 minutes, and Iíll remind the House that the bells will ring after 10 minutes, and that is the five-minute warning.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will come to order.
On Alcohol and Drug Secretariat
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Alcohol and Drug Secretariat in the amount of $630,000 agreed to
Operation and Maintenance Expenditures for the Department of Health and Social Services in the amount of $6,143,000 agreed to
Chair: Is there any discussion on the operation and maintenance recoveries?
On Capital Expenditures
On Policy, Planning and Administration
On Integrated Health and Social Services Facilities
Ms. Duncan: With respect to discussion of the integrated health and social services facilities, that is an underexpenditure of $8,000. Does the minister have an explanation for it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The $8,000 was transferred to health promotions, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Duncan: I appreciate that; however, something that we voted $20,000 for ó integrated health and social services facilities ó we underexpended that money. It only ended up costing us $12,000. Was it just a low bid or what was the reason for it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: There is a $8,000 saving in the integrated Health and Social Services facility budget. That was transferred to health promotions. It was used for a contribution agreement to provide Blood Ties Four Directions with funding for their renovations.
Chair: Is there any further discussion on integrated Health and Social Services facilities?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I heard the minister say it was moved, that the money was moved. So what cost us $8,000 less? We budgeted $20,000 to do something and it cost us $8,000 less. What was it?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This line item is for capital, and there was $8,000 less work undertaken than was anticipated. It wasnít obviously required, and the funding was moved over and used for capital renovations for Blood Ties.
Integrated Health and Social Services Facilities in the amount of an underexpenditure of $8,000 agreed to
On Office Furniture and Operational Equipment
Office Furniture and Operational Equipment in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Systems Development
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is the money for the new youth criminal justice system. Itís totally recoverable from Canada with a contribution agreement.
Ms. Duncan: Earlier in this debate, the minister indicated that we were studying a system in Alberta to do with child welfare. When I asked about the systemís development I asked if part of this money was for reviewing systems in other jurisdictions as was recommended by the Child Welfare League of Canada, and this was the answer I was given at that time, and now the ministerís answer seems to have changed. Is this $152,000 all recoverable and all for the youth criminal justice system? Are we studying the Alberta system for child welfare in some other line item?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member opposite is confused. Let us try and give her a better and clearer understanding. The initiative with the Province of Alberta is for the computer program for the children in care.
Thatís a separate initiative. Now, the new Youth Criminal Justice Act allowed us to enter into an agreement with Canada in system development. The new young offenders information system that is required under this new act is what is being developed here. This money is being funded with a contribution from Canada. The entire $152,000 is recoverable for Canada.
Ms. Duncan: So, where is the funding for the Province of Alberta children in care? Itís a separate initiative.
Iíll go back and look in Hansard because I donít believe I am confused ó the minister is the one who first made reference to it earlier. I was in discussion under the systems development line at that point in time. The member brought it up. Where is it being funded then?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: All weíre looking at for the initiative with Alberta are in-house staff costs. So, other than in-house staff costs, now that the department is not spending time on renewal ó now that the department is not spending time on reinventing the wheel ó staff have time to address their responsibilities. They donít have to do an accountability plan, and they donít have to be involved in renewal. Theyíre there to do their job. And this initiative with Alberta ó the approach was made by me to the minister responsible for this area in Alberta, and we have staff down there now looking at this computer program for children in care. Staff costs are what we are incurring.
Ms. Duncan: Itís interesting how the minister meanders through his answers. Iím looking forward to going through Hansard.
I would encourage him to focus his energies on doing his job and being accountable to the people in the House and being responsible and, while officials are out looking in Alberta at the children-in-care Province of Alberta computer program, perhaps they would also avail the minister of a copy of Albertaís accountability plans.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I thank the member opposite for the information. If it were necessary, we would have done so, but the initiative fell flat here under the previous administration so itís probably where it rightly belongs, Mr. Chair.
Chair: Is there any further debate on systems development?
Systems Development in the amount of $152,000 agreed to
On Family and Childrenís Services
On Child Care Services Development
Ms. Duncan: Iíd like a line explanation, please.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Under family and childrenís services, thereís an $80,000 increase to child care service development to address health and safety issues with play spaces at the various child care facilities.
Thereís a $109,000 increase for the young offenders facility as a revote, and this is a Management Board memo from March 21, 2002 ó Special Warrant No. 2. These funds were required for the replacement of the auto-lock system at the young offenders facility. This project was tendered, bids received were well above the budget for the project, and funds will have to be reallocated within the 2002-03 budget to complete the project. The replacement of this system was required to maintain the safety of both the staff and the youth in the facility.
In addition, Mr. Chair, the $50,000 increase for the young offenders facility ó the cost of these renovations is required to accommodate the intensive rehabilitation custodial sentencing program staff. They are fully recoverable from Canada under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Itís the cost-sharing agreement that I referred to earlier. And, of course, we have another revote, $105,000 ó Management Board memo dated March 21, 2002 ó
Chair: Weíre still on the line child care services in the amount of $80,000.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Thatís exactly where Iím at, Mr. Chair. Any debate on any of these areas?
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, the minister has made reference to the $159,000 young offenders facility renovations and equipment line. I heard that. I heard that explanation and I appreciate that. I didnít hear an explanation of child care services development, an additional $80,000 expenditure. He apparently missed a line. Iíd ask him to please address that.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Right at the beginning, Mr. Chair, and perhaps the member opposite could go back and review Hansard once again ó there has been an $80,000 increase to child care services development to address health and safety issues with play spaces at child care facilities. Thatís verbatim for what I said earlier.
Ms. Duncan: And then, Mr. Chair, he launched into an explanation of the young offenders facility. I would like to discuss that $80,000. The $80,000 for children play spaces ó was that at child care facilities? Iím expecting so. There was some talk about renovations and work being done at Jack Hulland School. Iím assuming itís not in this $80,000 and that thatís a separate amount somewhere else.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This refers specifically to day homes and child care centres.
Child Care Services Development in the amount of $80,000 agreed to
On Youth Offender Facilities ó Renovations and Equipment
Youth Offender Facilities ó Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $159,000 agreed to
On Residential Services ó Renovations and Equipment
Residential Services ó Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $100,000 agreed to
On Social Services
On Thomson Centre ó Renovations
Ms. Duncan: The difficulty with the Thomson Centre roof situation is that the more of the roof that has been uncovered, the more difficult the problem and the escalating cost. When does the minister anticipate this project will be finished, or would he prefer we ask the Infrastructure minister?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I am sure that the member opposite is going to go and proceed both ways and see if there is a conflicting answer, but there wonít be. The Thomson Centre renovations are underway. Unfortunately we are finding more and more as we go along.
This is another example of a major construction initiative undertaken by the Government of Yukon that has gone sideways. There wasnít adequate supervision at the onset, and it appears to be reflected in improper construction techniques being followed, which resulted in improper vapour barriers, which resulted in moisture coming through the roof, among other things. Since that time, it has been uncovered that there are problems with the sprinkler system, among others, as not being fully sprinkled as required by code.
The building envelope is having to be wrapped because of the penetration of moisture with the steel studs, and it goes on and on and on. The clock is ticking. Weíre at about $1.2 million currently. As to a completion date, Mr. Chair, we were hoping sooner rather than later, but as we get into the project, more and more is being uncovered as we go along. Iím given to understand that the roof may be completed toward the end of this month, but the wrap of the building, the new siding thatís required and a lot of the interior work and a lot of the mechanical work has yet to be determined and yet to be proceeded with. So we have a major problem on our hands, and of the costs at the end of the day, we are not aware. It would have been prudent of previous administrations, when the roof started the leak, to examine it at an earlier date, because by the time the decision was made, as late as it was made, the damage was very, very extensive and already underway. Weíre talking very serious problems, Mr. Chair. Itís a 10-year-old building with a failed envelope, and we donít know what the eventual final costs are going to be. Itís a million plus dollars, and the clock is still ticking, and there are still other areas that have to be fixed and addressed before the interior can be painted and it can be reoccupied.
Ms. Duncan: The minister said that he was hopeful that the roof would be completed by the end of the month. Iím assuming heís hopeful that itís the end of March and not the end of April.
And I noticed the foam insulation trucks heading up there Wednesday morning, so I would assume ó the type of vehicle that blows in the roofing and so on. So the end of the month is what I heard ó heís shaking his head, so I understand that weíll likely see other line items for increased costs and I appreciate that this is a 10-year-old building that has failed Yukoners. I would suggest that laying blame will be an interesting discussion for another day. My focused question was: when would it be done?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As to the date of completion, the roof was supposed to have been completed by the end of March. That date has been extended. It will be into next month, into April. There is still a lot of work to be done over there, Mr. Chair, and we probably had better say later rather than sooner because we were hoping to fast-track the initiatives, but every time we turn another corner, we encounter another problem.
Mr. Fairclough: The minister is asking this House to approve over $1 million over and above what was voted for, which wasnít very much at the beginning.
Is this all to do with the repairs to the roof? Was this amount of money for work other than the roof? Is it a million dollar roof that we have on the Thomson Centre?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The simple answer is yes.
Mr. Fairclough: There have been other problems identified with this building ó in the walls and the floor, and in the past, theyíve also had problems with the sewage system in the hospital. The building was built over an old brick system, and I know some work went into this to try and, I guess, build a new system away from where it was. They had all kinds of problems with backup into the computer room.
I was wondering if the minister can outline a little more clearly for us the type of work that has to be done in regard to the interior and the walls. The minister outlined the new siding on the outside, but itís the interior Iím interested in ó the walls, the floor and the sewage system.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: About the only area that is not a problem is the sewer system. When the hospital was built, a new sewer line was run from Lewes Boulevard into the hospital and connected to the Thomson Centre. There were some problems initially, but they were repaired and, since that time, everything has been functioning quite well in that regard. The sewer system is not the issue.
The problems surround the building envelope itself and the lack of vapour barrier in some areas. I canít give a straight, definitive answer at this juncture as to what problems weíre facing in the Thomson Centre and what the eventual cost will be. We donít know. As we keep getting further and further into it, we keep uncovering more and more problems.
The sprinkler system was the last major problem, and thereís a whole zone in which the sprinkler system wasnít installed, even though it was supposed to conform to the code that existed ó the National Fire Protection Association code back then ó and it is the same code currently today.
Nothing has changed, but thereís a whole area that was omitted and is not sprinkled, and Iím given to understand the cost of that initial loan is about $130,000.
Mr. Chair, this is a very serious problem that Yukon has with this type of building design that didnít have the proper supervision during construction and, at the end of the day, we are faced with putting a million bucks into a 10-year-old building for the roof alone and we do not know what weíre eventually going to be spending on the balance of the building. Itís extremely serious. Itís a major problem. This initiative was undertaken by a previous NDP administration. It was undertaken through Yukon Housing Corporation and it just didnít work the way it was done. We are all faced with costs at this point that we canít get a handle on totally and we donít know the length of time this building is going to be out of commission.
Mr. Fairclough: Mr. Chair, the minister said that the cost of the roof so far is around $1.2 million. Itís higher than the dollar amount thatís reflected in this budget. The minister said that it was all for the roof repair but he also mentioned that there is work being done on the siding, so I would think that a contract has already gone out for that work and that should be reflected in this budget rather than us seeing work done now before a budget is approved.
Once the minister gets a handle on what needs to be done on this building, we would like all the information to flow our way with regard to the cost to the building.
I also would like to know whether there has been any change in plans for the Thomson Centre, just going back to the ministerís master plan that he had in regard to turning this into a detox centre. Are we going to see additional renovations after this building has been renovated?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: For the record, there is a $750,000 revote. It goes back to a Management Board directive of March 26, 2002, and Special Warrant No. 2, which provided the $750,000 for the Thomson Centre roof. In addition to that, $300,000 additional funds were required to complete the last phase of the roof. So, weíre just over $1,050,000, and the clock is still ticking.
The siding will be extra, and the sprinkler system will be extra. There are also some other interior problems that will be extra. The biggest issues are the walls and the soffit replacements. We have a problem with the air-handling unit venting into the attic. That is going to have to be vented to the outside. We have some serious reservations and problems with the electrical hook-ups in the new kitchen that was installed, as to whether itís properly protected by the alarm system.
But the largest issue of all of these areas that has been identified to date is the approximately $130,000 cost for the sprinkler system alone.
Mr. Hardy: Since weíre talking about this building, I actually have a fairly interesting relationship with this building, and itís not that I worked on it.
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Mr. Hardy: No, I didnít oversee the construction. I tried to chase off a bunch of the Albertans who were working on it.
Unfortunately we werenít totally successful in doing that, and maybe that is why we have a big problem with the construction. I am not sure.
I guess the questions it brings up ó we know it is costing money and we know it is a mess, but as you talk about it, it sounds like absolutely everything in it is a mess. So my question to you is: have you done an inquiry into why the inspections werenít done properly?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: That is going to be done in due course, but it must be accurately pointed out that this building was proceeded with under an NDP government and it was done through Yukon Housing Corporation. A contract was awarded to Pratch Construction from Edmonton but it was under an NDP government that this building was proceeded with.
Mr. Hardy: Can I get the minister to explain exactly what bearing that has on this building ó that the contract was awarded when one or the other government was in place?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The reference is being made to Albertans coming in and the member opposite trying to chase them off the job but it has to be clearly pointed out that it was under an NDP watch that this contract was let. There is a reference made one way; it is only fair to accurately reflect how this building project was proceeded with and how it was undertaken and by which government.
Mr. Hardy: I think what I was doing was giving an example of being intimately involved with this building at one point. I believe the minister is spinning it into pointing blame at whichever government had it. If we want to start doing that kind of silly politics, we could probably find out that there was a government in place that wasnít an NDP government but was also tied in with this.
However, we are talking about this building, and the question I had was: has there been an analysis of the type of inspections that went on at that time, who was doing them, what happened? Because it sounds like, as I said earlier, every single aspect of the building seems to have problems. And if that is the case, where was the inspection process in this?
Iíll ask about other parts of this thing in a minute, but I would like to know that one.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The building was contracted by Yukon Housing Corporation, and they were the project managers on this initiative, Mr. Chair. As to what inspection services took place and how it was done, I do not know. I know that the government, the Department of Justice, has looked at recourse to the general contractor. Unfortunately the principal in that corporation or company is still dead, Mr. Chair, and thereís no recourse to him, and we have very little recourse to anyone. The inspection services were carried out by engineers separate and apart, but to what extent we do not know, and I share with the member opposite my concerns and serious reservations about what are rather obvious deficiencies in that structure to date. It has been discussed at our Cabinet and caucus level; we will be dealing with this type of situation. And it has to be pointed out that itís not this initiative alone. We have a number of government buildings across the Yukon that have been undertaken that have gone sideways. There have been very serious cost overruns, and the buildings, at the end of the day, have not been able to be used for the purpose that was intended. When we look at some of the designs, theyíre great looking structures, but are they actually compatible with the use here that we have? You only have to look around the Yukon and see how many cedar shake roofs that are in place. When you have the temperature extremes that we have here in the Yukon, itís not a roofing material that one would apply.
One only has to look at the various buildings that have cedar shake roofs to see the problems they subsequently had with the expansion and contraction of those roofs under the harsh conditions. Yes, theyíre a beautiful-looking building but, not only do they have to look good, more importantly they have to be functional and they have to be cost effective. As a government, we have failed miserably in a lot of these structures, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Hardy: Well, thatís an interesting analysis on cedar shake roofs because I would like to inform the minister that cedar shake roofs have been in use in the Yukon for over 100 years. They have stood up. Just last summer, we replaced a 90-year-old cedar shake roof that was still not leaking ó installed correctly. I, on my own house, have a cedar shake roof that has been there for many, many years and never leaked. Itís not so much the material thatís used; it is the method of how itís put on, ensuring that itís put on properly.
The minister has talked about other buildingsí cost overruns. He also talked about the design, and there is some correct analogy there that maybe that building isnít the most perfect design. Itís a beautiful building, but I wouldnít necessarily want to find us going to a square box and tin roof for our whole Yukon because, Mr. Chair, this would have an effect upon other industries, such as the tourist industry. People do come and stay in areas that are quite beautiful. Look at Dawson City and its architecture. People go up there just to experience that.
So, we do have a responsibility to ensure that buildings are pleasant to the eye and pleasant in space inside, and this building does meet those requirements. Unfortunately, there could be some elements in the engineering and there could be some elements in the architectural design that the inspectors may have followed, believing they were following what was identified and, through no fault of their own, they followed what was identified and already approved and, of course, it has not met the requirements. That doesnít necessarily mean the materials are bad; it is just that maybe other aspects werenít taken into consideration. You have to look at the whole picture. However, there is the quality of workmanship that you get. Sometimes you get what you pay for, which raises a question about lots of our buildings that have been going sideways. Is really the low cost the best way to go?
I know for a fact that in some instances, in the United States, in Europe ó a lot of the countries, actually ó they donít go with the low price any more. They have a different method of calculating what the real price is to avoid cost overruns, to avoid inferior work. Theyíve been a lot more successful. Thatís an option. Maybe this building points to something like that.
Now, we have a very, very good example of what weíre facing here that happened down in British Columbia. The condominium fiasco, where a massive amount of condominiums were built and sold to people and then, of course, they started leaking through the walls, down the walls, and rotting, and there was extreme mould. A lot of that was pointed at design, but a lot of it was pointed at the builders too ó low, low prices, taking tremendous shortcuts and not ensuring proper sealage on the building itself. I think this building is an example of a whole aspect of the industry that the government has to take a look at and the way it works with the industry, right from the design, the engineering, to the contractors they are hiring, the records. Is the low price always the best price to go with? The government doesnít always have to take the low price, we do know that.
Just as a reminder, this contractor, Bert Pratch Construction, did stay in operation after the father passed away because they were working on a job and they continued to work. That would have been École Émilie Tremblay up in Granger. They were, I think, a quarter or a third of the way through that building when Mr. Pratch passed away in Skagway, I believe it was. He had his heart attack.
They continued to operate. And they did a few more jobs as well; the daughter took over. But they also did a job in Watson Lake and I think they did a job in Dawson as well.
Has the minister looked at those buildings to see if there is some continuation of the problems or have they been built satisfactory?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The issue before us is the Thomson Centre, and that is what we are dealing with here. As to the far-ranging implications of all the other buildings built by this contractor, that is outside the parameters of my department ó we are talking about a school and a liquor store. Letís concentrate and bring the focus back to the Health and Social Services budget.
Mr. Hardy: If the minister wants to talk about other buildings going sideways, then I am quite willing to talk about buildings. That is my trade and something I have worked in for over 30 years.
However, I am finished in this area but will be coming back to it when we get into the main budget, hopefully soon, and probably in general debate because I think it is all connected.
Ms. Duncan: I want to ask a question around the contracting ó the renovations. The repairs were initially started ó the Deputy Minister of Infrastructure was looking at working with the contracting community so that repairs could be dealt with as they were required and as we uncovered them. I am not asking the Minister of Health to answer this question. I am not going to duplicate the question. I just want the Minister of Infrastructure to be on notice that I am wondering if they are continuing that practice so that these contracts are essentially smaller so that they could be bid locally. Is that continuing as we find the building needs more repairs?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís not a job you can write a tender for. Itís being proceeded with on a time and material basis.
Ms. Duncan: It was a conscious decision to proceed on a time-material basis, so I just wanted to make sure that was continuing.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member across is absolutely right. Itís the best way to proceed in this kind of situation, and itís really the only way you have flexibility because, when you open the roof or open the wall, you donít know what youíre going to see next. So, itís impossible to define the terms of reference for the review and the undertaking.
So, itís initially proceeded with on a time and material basis, and itís continuing in that manner.
Thomson Centre ó Renovations in the amount of $1,050,000 agreed to
On Continuing Care ó New Facility
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This goes back to a Management Board decision on March 21, 2002, and Special Warrant No. 2. These funds were required for the completion of Copper Ridge Place.
Ms. Duncan: Following up on the issue around workmanship and materials and so on, when I last left the discussion of Copper Ridge Place, there was a problem with doors, but it was a warranty issue. Has that been resolved then, at no cost to the government?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member is absolutely correct. The doors were replaced under warranty.
Chair: Is there any further debate on the line item, continuing care Ė new facility?
Mr. Hardy: The minister mentioned cost overruns as a concern. Is this a cost overrun on this new facility?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No, itís not. Itís a revote because construction was delayed and went into the next period.
Mr. Hardy: So has this building been turned over on budget, what it was originally bid at?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, Iím given to understand that there was an increase in the capital budget for this project, but that was dealt with by the previous administration in the last budget cycle.
Mr. Hardy: Iím not pointing fingers at anyone at all. Iím just looking at something that the member opposite mentioned earlier, and itís a very legitimate concern ó buildings awarded at a tender price that end up costing more to the government when theyíre finally delivered.
Following that line of questioning, Iím looking at this one and wondering: has there been a cost increase on this building?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Yes, and itís not unusual to have a cost increase in a major capital project of this nature. Thatís not the issue. Itís the quality of the work, and we have buildings in Ross River that are sinking into the permafrost. Weíve got a school in Mayo that has some foundation problems. We have a number of initiatives across the Yukon where we have some serious problems with the major construction that has been undertaken.
Mr. Hardy: Could I just get that clarified? Did the minister say that itís not a problem to have cost increases on a job?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: On a major capital project the size of this capital project, there are always provisions for cost overruns. It has to be part of the equation, Mr. Chair. The best way to proceed is with a project manager in place who makes the determination every step of the way to keep it within budget. A lot is dependent on that project manager and, if you donít have the best project manager in place, you can expect to have difficulties and cost overruns, but itís not unforeseen to have change orders initiated from the architectural engineering side of the equation on a major project of this size. That occurs on an ongoing basis. Even the best set of blueprints are probably only about 98 or 99 percent accurate and, until you get to the final stages of a construction project, thereís a lot that may require a change order and the resulting incremental cost increase.
Mr. Hardy: Weíre going to have to explore this a little bit more because I do know the industry well and I do know how you bid on a project ó very well. To assume that every price that is turned in of any size is going to have cost overruns is not a way of operating in this day when this government has talked about fiscal responsibility.
That raises a big concern that if this is already an accepted practice and there are not ways to find cost-savings on a job, which there always are, it goes both ways, Mr. Chair.
I can assure you that some of these companies have people on staff whose whole job is to find ways to increase the price, because the low price wasnít as good as they would have liked it, but they can get the price that way and then they spend the next eight or 10 months slowly moving the price up to where itís more acceptable, which would often, in an interesting manner, end up being higher than the second bid, which might have been more honest, as a beginning-to-end project.
Weíve had many projects delivered without having it go into cost overruns. We should also look at the companies that do that.
However, my question on this one ó and it raises a big concern ó is: what are the cost overruns on this continuing care building?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Well, the member opposite only has to recall debate on this issue. There was extensive discussion about the cost overruns in Copper Ridge. Just go back the Hansard. There was a lot of discussion ensuing around it and it happened under a previous watch, but there have been cost overruns on Copper Ridge and we will provide the member opposite with the total amount of those cost overruns on that facility.
Ms. Duncan: If I might just enter the debate for a moment with respect to Copper Ridge. Copper Ridge was initiated under the continuing care new facility line that weíre on. The Copper Ridge facility was initiated by a previous administration. There were a number of cost overruns and there were a number of change orders; this was quite a project. I would just encourage the minister and the staff who are preparing the details on this building to also include the note that there was a decision made to go from an 82-bed facility ó I think thatís the number ó to a 96-bed facility. There was an increase in beds. That was also a decision. There were also decisions around specialized equipment that was required for patients but then were subsequently not required.
One who speaks with the trades people will realize that there was also siding put on that building ó that there is a disagreement as to what should have been used and what was called for. So, itís a full and complete story that is quite enlightening for all concerned, and I would just encourage the minister to provide all the details when he responds to my learned colleague to the left.
Mr. Hardy: I always love being on the left. Itís where Iím most comfortable. I just want to finish up with a point that, in my industry, we have an analysis of jobs, and many companies bring projects in under budget ó many companies ó and theyíre very proud of being able to do that because they run extremely effective, efficient professional firms. To say that itís a standard practice ó itís not.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, what Iím saying is that in a project of any size there are always change orders, and there are always provisions for cost overruns. Itís a standard in the industry. Yes, some projects can be brought in on time, on budget, but the issue is not on time, on budget for a lot of these projects. Itís probably just a difficulty with the building design and the application of that building to the specific use. We allow a lot of architectural licence here that may or may not be in the best interest of our government and of Yukoners in general. Theyíre great looking structures, but are they cost effective as a design and as a building, and what is the cost of ongoing O&M on those structures? Thatís really the crux of the matter.
The issue of quality of workmanship is certainly a concern but, at the end of the day, when you have a structure like the Thomson Centre thatís missing a whole part of its sprinkler system, when you have an air handler unit that exhausts into the attic versus the outside, you know youíre just asking for trouble down the road, Mr. Chair.
You canít build up moisture in the attic to the extent that an air handler will pump, given the air handling exchanges that even a basic office building requires at three per hour. Thatís a tremendous amount of air movement, and when you get an ambient temperature thatís minus 20, 30 or 40 degrees and an inside ambient temperature thatís plus 20 or 25, thatís one heck of a temperature deviation to be pumping that moist air into the attic. Youíre just asking for trouble in your building envelope.
So, those are some of the problems that have been faced. Our government will be addressing them. We are exploring options as to what we can do.
But Justice has looked at the option of going back on the contractor. As everyone well knows, these structures have a one-year warranty period. Thatís not to say that if there is negligence or bad practices evident on the part of the contractor, there is no recourse to the general contractor after the warranty period. But, given that the company has virtually collapsed, itís not something we can do. Weíll probably spend a lot of time on a lot of lawyers and, at the end of the day, weíll still have to incur the cost of rebuilding this building because the guarantee has expired, the warranty is out, and the bonding is gone. All of those avenues have left; they are no longer available to us as a government.
But we do have a very serious problem in this area, and itís something weíre going to have to address as a government.
Mr. Hardy: This is my last question. The ministerís comments seem to indicate that the subtrades were negligent in their air venting. Are the subtrades who actually worked on it still in existence? Are we going to check into taking some action against them?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: No one is making any suggestion that anyone was negligent. I am saying that government has a very serious problem, but the codes in existence today are virtually the same codes back when that building was designed. There has been very little change in codes, so they werenít adhered to. I donít believe personally that it was the trades people who were responsible. It canít be; they are just undertaking their responsibilities but, at the end of the day, we have a very defective product in the Thomson Centre and government is going to have to address it.
Mr. Hardy: To clarify, when I say a "sub trade" I mean another company, not the trades people, and there is a multitude of companies that work under a general on a building. Each of them have an agreement and if there is a venting problem, that would be part of a group of companies you would be looking at. I donít know what the legal agreements are, but I would assume this government would be doing its due diligence if they are looking at all the avenues on this and seeing if there was some way to deal with that situation in regard to sub trades as well and not just the general.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: As the member opposite should be aware, there is no recourse to the subs; it is all to the general. The general gives out the subs and you canít go after the subs at this point in time. Virtually you would have a great deal of problems going after the general at this point in time. Everyone was cleared and the building was signed off and the project management team was the Yukon Housing Corporation.
Mr. Hardy: Just a correction to the minister that itís not always that the general gives out the subs. It has been general practice in the Yukon often to award the mechanical separate from the general, and I just wonder if thatís the case with this building. It might have been different but that has been a general practice for larger buildings.
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Mr. Chair, the entire contract was awarded for all aspects of construction mechanical to one general who subbed everything out from there.
Continuing Care ó New Facility in the amount of $977,000 agreed to
On McDonald Lodge ó Renovations and Equipment
Ms. Duncan: Mr. Chair, I realize McDonald Lodge is an older facility. Was this some unexpected renovation that couldnít be covered under the $100,000 originally requested?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: Itís for a hot water heat exchanger off the boiler. Itís a stand-alone heat exchanger that had to be replaced, and there were some other small minor repairs in the plumbing area, sinks and whatnot, Mr. Chair.
McDonald Lodge ó Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $5,000 agreed to
On Health Services
On Dental Health Services ó Equipment
Dental Health Services ó Equipment in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Environmental Health Services - Equipment
Ms. Duncan: We hadnít planned to spend any money in this particular area, and now that the government has ó like when we last discussed this health services budget. So is this water testing or is this some kind of testing equipment we have purchased?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The member is absolutely correct. It is for water testing in the lab.
Ms. Duncan: Is that water testing in the lab at Yukon Hospital Corporation, or where is that water testing being done ó at environmental health branch?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is in the lab at the environmental health branch.
Ms. Duncan: So the Government of Yukon has gone out and purchased our own water-testing equipment?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: The government has had the testing equipment for water in this lab, and this was additional equipment that was added to test water after the incident in Teslin last year.
Environmental Health Services ó Equipment in the amount of $9,000 agreed to
On Health Promotion ó Renovations
Health Promotion ó Renovations in the amount of $8,000 agreed to
On Community Nursing ó Equipment and Facilities
Community Nursing ó Equipment and Facilities in the amount of $1,000 agreed to
On Alcohol and Drug Secretariat
On Alcohol and Drug Services Ė Renovations and Equipment
Mr. Fairclough: I know that this is going toward renovations and equipment for the secretariat, but since the Yukon Party was elected, this secretariat has been dismantled. I was wondering if the minister can give us a breakdown of what monies have been spent and what savings are we going to be looking at? What are the lapses in this line item that we are looking at?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: This is for work that has already been undertaken. Some of the projects include painting and patching of the interior of the building, renovating the kitchen cupboards and other parts of the kitchen, replacing and installing lighting, receptacles, outdoor plugs, removing and replacing carpet, exterior ground maintenance, exterior painting, building signage, renovating offices, a photocopier, some computers, cabling ó all those areas, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Fairclough: Can the minister tell us if this work continued after the secretariat was dismantled?
Hon. Mr. Jenkins: I am given to understand that all these funds were expended over the course of the summer and they were completed late in the summer.
Chair: Is there any further discussion on alcohol and drug services renovations and equipment?
Alcohol and Drug Secretariat ó Renovations and Equipment in the amount of $105,000 agreed to
Capital Expenditures for the Department of Health and Social Services in the amount of $2,647,000 agreed to
Chair: Continuing on to page 11-6, are there any questions on capital recoveries?
That concludes Health and Social Services.
Department of Health and Social Services agreed to
Chair: The Chair seeks some advice and direction ó
Some Hon. Member: (Inaudible)
Chair: The Chair understands that we will proceed into Business, Tourism and Culture. Do members wish a brief five-minute recess?
Some Hon. Members: Agree.
Chair: We will recess for five minutes.
Chair: Order please. Committee of the Whole will now come to order. Weíll resume with Vote 54, Business, Tourism and Culture.
Department of Business, Tourism and Culture
Chair: Is there any general debate?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am pleased to introduce the supplementary estimates for the Department of Business, Tourism and Culture. The department requests an increase of $461,000 to its operation and maintenance budget and $631,000 to its capital budget. The operation and maintenance expenditures in this 2002-03 supplementary budget reflect our priorities.
The industry development and research branch welcomes federal support of $101,000 from the knowledge and innovation fund. The fund is Canadaís commitment to enhance knowledge and innovation. The budget items are 100-percent recoverable from Indian Affairs and Northern Development and involve three projects.
$36,000 supports the survey to determine the role of information technology in the development of business and the barriers and opportunities that might exist in the territory.
$10,000 builds a conceptual framework for Yukonís small manufacturing sector aimed at increasing production of Yukon goods and value-added products.
$55,000 jointly develops an economic strategy for northern housing construction with the Yukon Housing Corporation. This project recommends innovative techniques in energy and material efficiency as well as heating and ventilation for the north.
The supplementary funds of $250,000 for Tourism marketing branch is for gateway cities co-op marketing initiative which targets familiar markets close to home and focuses advertising of gateway cities in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
An additional $18,000 provides for an adjustment in the currency exchange rate for the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program.
The City of Whitehorse and the department have an agreement for information kiosk located in the Whitehorse Visitor Reception Centre. This budget includes $15,000 for this kiosk. Again the funding is 100-percent recoverable from the city.
Another major recoverable expenditure of $174,000 implements a Canadian consumer response advertising program through the joint Yukon-Alaska marketing program that targets Alaska Highway travellers. Funding is 100-percent recoverable from the Alaska Tourism Industry Association.
The cultural services branch has two recoverable budget expenditures. The first implements the Moving Words ó Poetry in Transit program aimed at celebrating the work of Yukon poets and encouraging the public to read the works by putting the poems on display on the City of Whitehorse transit buses. Thanks to the City of Whitehorse for their cooperation in this initiative. $5,000 in funding is 100-percent recoverable from the Canada Council for the Arts.
The second project under the cultural services branch provides $25,000 to develop and test the curriculum to introduce the new academic levels of instruction that allow the Klondike Institute of Arts and Culture to become a diploma-granting institution. The funds are 100-percent recoverable from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development through the knowledge and innovation fund.
The capital expenditures in this 2002-03 supplementary budget consist mainly of revotes from the 2001-02 budget. Industry development and research capital expenditures include an $8,000 revote for completion of a product and market demand situation analysis for the Campbell region tourism plan and a revote of $10,000 for the completion of the north Yukon tourism plan.
A $15,000 revote is required to complete the wilderness tourism river rafting regulations.
The industry development and research branch requires revotes of $200,000 for the Northern Research Institute contribution agreement for the technology innovation council, $42,000 for the First Nations contribution agreement for technology and telecommunications development, and $13,000 for the Yukon information technology industry to undertake to develop an application for funding for a major IT project.
The budget expends $50,000 for CRTC consulting to review the service improvement plan. A telecommunications review for $25,000 will compare the Yukonís telecommunication capability with the rest of Canada. This review is undertaken every five years and lays the framework for a plan of action for further development, essentially helping to move the Yukon to comparable services to the rest of Canada.
The highlight of this budget sees $236,000 for a community access program extension. This project provides funding and administration support for the public Internet access sites in our rural communities. This is an extension of an agreement with Industry Development and Research Canada and is fully recoverable.
The cultural industries branch requires $50,000 as a revote under the museums assistance program. The funding goes toward the architectural design of the Kluane Cultural Centre. This budget also represents a revote of $40,000 for the museums strategy.
A $30,000 revote provides for repairs to the original telegraph office in Dawson City.
Heritage studies revotes $12,000 to undertake the French into English translation of a thesis on the subject of central Yukon Tutchone peoples.
This budget seeks $20,000 in fully recoverable funding to develop an Internet-based virtual exhibit on Fort Selkirk as part of the Virtual Museums of Canada program. The Yukon has become a leader in the country in developing virtual museums that highlight the history and heritage of the Yukon to the rest of Canada and to the world. The budget includes $5,000 to provide the collection of historical data, such as oral histories and photographs, to make them available for the public through the Canadian Heritage Information Network.
This funding is also fully recoverable. A $14,000 revote is included to complete the Dawson City Museumís train conservation project. Repair of the outdoor fossil exhibit at the Beringia Centre requires an $11,000 revote. Iím pleased to announce that $50,000 was obtained from Environment Canada to design and install several new displays in the Beringia Centre to inform and promote awareness of climate change. This fully-recoverable project looks at what plants can tell us about three million years of climate change. Finally, this budget reflects a revote of $85,000 for arts fund projects.
This concludes the supplementary estimates for the Department of Business, Tourism and Culture. Thank you.
Mr. McRobb: I donít have a lot of questions in general debate, but one of the areas I would like to explore with the minister is in the area of tourism marketing. That also counts for the lionís share of the extra funds in O&M, and thereís a slight decrease on the capital side. I would like to ask the minister, first of all, what directions she has given to the department in terms of marketing?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As the member is aware, we have a Yukon tourism marketing partnership in place. Primarily, it is a partnership made up of Tourism Industry Association of Yukon, as well as other partners like the Wilderness Tourism Association, and so forth. They are currently undergoing a review of the marketing initiatives within the marketing branch, and that review has been ongoing for the last couple of months. The completion of that review should be soon. Certainly we look forward to the results of that review to see what recommendations are put forward.
Mr. McRobb: Is the minister saying the YTMP is expressly her single means of input driving any new direction in the area of tourism marketing?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: As the member opposite might be aware, I issued a letter to the Tourism Industry Association ó I believe it was back in January, if Iím not mistaken, if not February ó and it outlines five priorities that our government has stated we wish to pursue over the course of this upcoming fiscal year, as well as over the course for our mandate. Those being, of course, the creation of a new Department of Tourism and Culture ó which the member is fully aware will take place April 1 ó and product development, which we have identified as a priority and will be going out to hire a full-time individual to undertake product development here in the territory.
The other one is to take a look at a special marketing agency and to take a look at the alternate marketing models that are used elsewhere in Canada. Iím just trying to think of the other couple of ones here. We have also identified, as a priority, the development of a brand strategy and a corporate destination marketing strategy. A lot of work was done by the previous government. Iíll have to give them credit. We want to continue on with that work and implement it. We also want to give a greater role to the YTMP in the designation of marketing funds.
Mr. McRobb: I thank the minister for that information, but I would like to receive a copy of her letter ó sheís nodding in the affirmative, Mr. Chair, and thatís good.
I would like to ask about the YTMP ó do they have minutes of their meetings? Is the minister aware of whether they have minutes?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: Iím not aware. Iím sure they would. As the member opposite is aware, the YTMP contains several committees and, under each committee, there would be various subcommittees. Iím not sure if the member opposite is interested in receiving minutes of the various committees.
Mr. McRobb: Yes, I would, Mr. Chair, because I believe all members of this House should benefit from the recommendations and discussion coming out of this group. I know the minister and I would agree that the group is a highly qualified, experienced group of local Yukon tourism entrepreneurs, and they make their very livelihood from this industry and nobody knows it better than they do. Their suggestions and input shouldnít be controlled, so I would ask the minister if she would undertake to see if there are minutes that have been produced and, if there are, if she can get us copies of them and also put us on any ongoing distribution list. Would she do that for us?
Hon. Ms. Taylor: What I can commit to the member opposite is that I can certainly make a request to the YTMP and see if that is possible. I myself have not even seen the minutes of such meetings. So I can make that inquiry on behalf of the member.
Mr. McRobb: That would be fine, Mr. Chair.
Now, the minister alluded to the special marketing agency. Is that the one that was proposed, I believe in the fall of 2001, that would be a single Yukon government marketing agency, like a Crown corporation? I believe it was. Some of the information we would like to get about that concept is finding out exactly where itís at.
We know that back at the Tourism Roundup, I believe it was in November 2001, a lot of concerns were expressed about going with that model. We asked questions about it in here, and I know people in the tourism industry werenít very happy that the very branch that would be marketing tourism for the territory would also be out trying to sell, you know, BST for highways and anything else. It got to the point where it was a bit ridiculous.
The predecessor refused to oblige us on our concerns about this Crown corporation, and we know that the former MLA for Riverdale North was contracted to liaise with the tourism industry and to try and find some solutions to this conundrum. I might be wrong because I was not Tourism critic for the official opposition continuously since 2000. There was a break in my duty in that regard, but I donít recall ever seeing anything in terms of written material coming out of that review and I donít even recall seeing any terms of reference for that contract.
Weíll probably get into this quite at length because itís important. We need the minister to undertake to return with all the information Iíve identified, along with anything else she might provide in terms of the potential development of this central marketing agency.
Mr. Chair, the time being close to 6:00 ó
Chair: Order please. The time being 6:00, the Chair shall now rise and report to the House.
Speaker resumes the Chair
Speaker: I will now call the House to order.
May the House have a report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole?
Mr. Rouble:Mr. Speaker, Committee of the Whole has considered Bill No. 2, Third Appropriation Act, 2002-03, and has directed me to report progress on it.
Speaker: You have heard the report from the Chair of the Committee of the Whole. Are you agreed?
Some Hon. Members: Agreed.
Speaker: I declare the report carried.
Order please. The time being 6:00 p.m., this House now stands adjourned until 1:00 p.m. Monday.
The House adjourned at 6:02 p.m.